Unemployment Rate Jumps in February, Recent Employment Gains Revised Down 167K Jobs

Craig Bannister | March 8, 2024
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The unemployment rate jumped unexpectedly, while the employment numbers reported in the previous two months were revised down significantly, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report for February, released Friday.

The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate, which many market analysists had expected to stay the same or decline, jumped from 3.7% to 3.9%.

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose 275,000 from January, failing to meet expectations.

Meanwhile, the robust job gains the BLS reported for December and January, which had baffled experts and contradicted other economic indicators, were revised down by a combined 167,000 jobs.

The constant downward revisions, from the monthly numbers initially reported, have created distrust of the government's claims.

“Yeah, I just don’t buy it,” Fox Business’s Cheryl Casone said last month, reacting to the January numbers claimed by the BLS at the time. “Full-time jobs, what do we do with that data? I think, at this point, we wait until next month.”

Indeed, December’s job growth was lowered by 43,000, while January’s was reduced by 124,000, in the following report, released Friday.

According to Friday’s report:

  • The 3.9% unemployment rate is up from the 3.6% rate recorded a year earlier (February 2023).
  • The number of unemployed persons is up from 6.0 million a year earlier to 6.5 million last month.
  • The number of permanent job losers increased by 174,000, compared to January, to 1.7 million.
  • The labor force participation rate was 62.5% for the third consecutive month.


By sector, Health care (+67,000 jobs), government (+52,000), and food services/drinking places (+42,000) contributed the highest employment gains to the seasonally-adjusted 275,000 increase from January.

The business and economic reporting of CNSNews is funded in part with a gift made in memory of Dr. Keith C. Wold.