The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly employment report today. The unemployment rate was up 0.1 to 5.8% in February.
The big news in the report, though, was that total (non-farm) payroll employment fell by 308,000 after seasonal adjustment. This seemes to have been interpreted as a big negative for the economy and was much larger that expected.
Keep in mind that the employment data is often called a “lagging indicator,” meaning that the statistic tends to reflect the past state of the economy more that it indicates where the economy is headed. The weak employment number tends to indicates what we already know – that the economy was indeed weak; but it does not necessarily mean the economy is headed further downward.
However, for the unemployed – and those looking for jobs – it is certainly not good news.
THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION: FEBRUARY 2003
Total nonfarm payroll employment fell by 308,000 in February, while the unemployment rate was about unchanged at 5.8 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Job losses were widespread, with retail trade and services posting especially large declines.