Economists and employers alike waited anxiously for the February jobs report that was recently released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as economic momentum in the previous weeks and a strong jobs report from ADP fueled high expectations.
Fortunately, when the numbers were released, economists were not only relieved, but surprised, as employment data came in much stronger than any forecast called. According to the most recent BLS Employment Situation report, the U.S. economy generated 236,000 jobs last month, which was enough to lower the unemployment rate by two-tenths of a percentage point to 7.7 percent. This surge in hiring, as well as a few revisions that showed employment actually picked up more than thought in previous months, helped the three-month hiring average rise to 195,000, one of the highest readings in years.
Not only does this report beat analysts' most optimistic forecasts, which called for between 160,000 and 180,000 new jobs, it also came in stronger than the ADP employment report. This number, which is compiled alongside Moody's Analytics and is traditionally higher than official data, came in at 198,000.
The numbers are especially exciting for anyone looking for a job in engineering or architecture, as the data suggest hiring is picking up in these sectors. According to Architect Magazine, 3,100 architecture and engineering jobs were added last month, a major improvement from the 300 jobs that were lost in January. This drop, however, was considered an anomaly, as in the months leading up to January, hiring in these sectors was strong. In December, 3,800 jobs were added, while in November, employment in the industry rose by 2,400, and by 1,500 in October.
According to the news source, the construction sector, which also has influence over engineering hiring, was also strong in February, adding 48,000 jobs. This comes in well above the 28,000 jobs that were added in January and the 30,000 that the economy added in December. The bulk of these new jobs were for trade contractors, for both residential and nonresidential projects, which grew by 31,700 last month. Specifically, residential construction employment rose by 2,300, while nonresidential job change saw a large gain of 6,200 new jobs.
The good month adds to BLS data that show over the 12-month period leading up to February, the construction sector generated 140,000 new jobs, and architectural and engineering positions increased by 26,300