Job growth accelerated in February with widespread gains across industries. Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 678,000 in February, and the unemployment rate edged down to 3.8%.
Construction industry employment (both residential and non-residential) totaled 7.6 million. Residential construction gained 31,000 jobs, while non-residential construction added 29,400 jobs for the month. Residential construction employment currently exceeds its level in February 2020, while 73% of non-residential construction jobs lost in March and April have now been recovered.
Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 678,000 in February, following a gain of 481,000 in January, as reported in the Employment Situation Summary. Job gains for December and January were revised upward. The December estimate was revised up by 78,000 from +510,000 to +588,000, while the January increase was revised up by 14,000 to +481,000.
In the first two months of 2022, nearly 1.2 million jobs were created, and monthly employment growth has averaged 580,000 per month. As of February 2022, total nonfarm employment is still 2.1 million lower than its pre-pandemic level in February 2020.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate decreased by 0.2 percentage point to 3.8% in February. It was 10.9 percentage points lower than its recent high of 14.7% in April 2020 and 0.3 percentage points higher than the rate in February 2020. While the number of persons unemployed decreased to 6.3 million, the number of persons employed increased by 548,000 in February.
The labor force participation rate, the proportion of the population either looking for a job or already with a job, increased 0.1 percentage points to 62.3% in February, showing more people are reentering the labor force. It is the highest level since March 2020.
Job growth was widespread across industries in February, led by gains in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, health care, and construction.
Employment in the overall construction sector increased by 60,000 in February, following a gain of 7,000 in January. It marks the largest gain in the past 20 months. Residential construction added 31,000 jobs, and non-residential construction employment rose by 29,400 in February.
Residential construction employment now stands at 3.1 million in February, broken down as 891,000 builders and 2.2 million residential specialty trade contractors. The 6-month moving average of job gains for residential construction was 12,800 a month. Over the last 12 months, home builders and remodelers added 135,400 jobs on a net basis. Since the low point following the Great Recession, residential construction has gained 1,152,200 positions.
In February, the unemployment rate for construction workers declined by 0.5 percentage points to 5.1% on a seasonally adjusted basis. The unemployment rate for construction workers has been trending lower, after reaching 14.2% in April 2020, due to the housing demand impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.