Some of the layoffs that big retailers like Gap, JCPenney, Sears, Dollar Tree and Abercrombie & Fitch have announced may be starting to trickle through as well, with a drop of 6,100 in the retail sector.
In addition, the construction industry, which is closely linked to weather conditions, shed 31,000 jobs last month.
More broadly, optimism continues
Outside of the government’s report, signs of employer confidence were still evident.
“I’ve been in this business over 40 years, and February always presents kind of a pause,” said William H. Stoller, chairman and chief executive of Express Employment Professionals, which is based in Oklahoma City. He compared it to taking a breath during a marathon, before a second wind kicks in. “I don’t see it hitting the wall at all at this point,” he said.
Other recruiting and employment professionals also expect the labor market to regain its momentum. Bill Ravenscroft, a senior vice president at the staffing firm Adecco, pointed to a growing willingness to convert temporary workers into full-time staff members. The high rate of conversion, he said, shows there is little concern that layoffs will be needed down the road.
With job postings outpacing applicants, Adecco has started to offer daily pay to lure more people into the pool of potential workers. Many job seekers can’t wait two weeks for the paychecks, Mr. Ravenscroft said. Now, “if you log eight hours that day, you get paid for it.”
Sanford Health’s weight-loss and lifestyle program, Profile, has been on a hiring binge, said Nate Malloy, Profile’s chief executive. He said he expected 100 new locations, many of them franchises, to open this year. “We’re adding around 50 to 100 employees a month” across locations, he said. Most are health coaches, with starting wages of $15 to $20 an hour.
As has been the case throughout the recovery, job opportunities can vary widely by region. Hard-pressed rural areas have experienced the slowest growth in employment, yet residents are often unable or unwilling to abandon their homes and move to other areas.