February Losses in Construction Offset Manufacturing’s Rebound from a Dismal January

Employment in construction, manufacturing, and mining and logging decreased in February by 44,000 jobs, a 0.22 percent decrease from the previous month. The decrease brings the three-month (December to February) average to an increase of 10,330 jobs each month, or a 0.05 percent month-to-month change. The previous three months  (September to November) had an average increase of 88,670 jobs, or a 0.45 percent month-to-month change.


Construction jobs decreased by 56,000 in February, or 0.76 percent over the previous month. The West was the only region to experience an overall increase, with 3,800 jobs added, or 0.20 percent over the previous month. The Midwest, Northeast and South experienced losses, with net decreases of 34,500 (-2.49 percent), 20,500 (-1.87 percent), and 10,500 (-0.37 percent), respectively. 

Utah led the West with an addition of 3,000 jobs, a 2.54 percent increase over the previous month. Nevada, Washington state, New Mexico, and California followed with net increases of 1,500 (+1.64 percent), 1,200 (+0.54 percent), 600 (+1.24 percent), and 600 jobs (+0.07 percent), respectively. The Carolinas led job growth in the South, with net increases of 2,200 jobs in South Carolina (+2.13 percent) and 1,900 in North Carolina (+0.82 percent). In the Northeast, Pennsylvania had the largest net increase in the region, with 1,400 jobs added, or 0.56 percent over the previous month.

New York state had the largest net decrease, with 15,600 jobs lost, or a 4.08 percent decrease. As Table 1 shows, the Midwest had the most states with net decreases.

Table 1 – Construction losses in the Midwest
StateMonthly Change (thousands)Month-to-month change (%)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Manufacturing jobs increased by 18,000 in February, or a 0.15 percent change over the previous month. The three-month average from December to February was 11,670 jobs, or a 0.10 percent month-to-month change. This suggests that losses in January were an outlier. The sector had been experiencing a slow rebound from losses earlier during the pandemic. The previous three-month average (September to November) had been 42,670 jobs, or a 0.35 percent month-to-month change.

By region, the West had the largest net increase in manufacturing, with 12,900 jobs added in February, or 0.55 percent over the previous month. The Northeast, South, and Midwest experienced net increases of 4,300 (+0.25 percent), 1,400 (+0.03 percent), and 600 (+0.02 percent), respectively.

California led the states with the highest increase in manufacturing jobs. The net increase in the state was 8,900 jobs, or a 0.72 percent increase over the previous month. In the West, Arizona followed California with 1,600 jobs added, or 0.90 percent over the previous month. In the Midwest, strong gains in Indiana (+2,500 jobs, or +0.48 percent), Iowa (+2,200 jobs, or +1.01 percent), and Michigan (+1,800 jobs, or +0.31 percent) were offset by large net decreases in Missouri (-4,100 jobs, or -1.52 percent) and Minnesota (-1,600 jobs, or -0.52 percent). There was a similar occurrence in the South, with gains in Georgia (+2,000, or +0.52 percent) being offset by losses in Texas (-2,600, or -0.30 percent) and Tennessee (-1,900, or -0.55 percent).

Mining and Logging

Mining and logging jobs decreased by 6,000 in February, or a 1.01 percent decrease over the previous month. The three-month average from December to February was a net loss of 2,330 jobs, or a -0.39 percent month-to-month change. Separating the sectors, mining experienced a net decrease from January to February of 5,700 jobs and logging saw a loss of 100 jobs. With 544,200 jobs nationwide as of February, mining is well below its September 2014 peak of 851,000 jobs nationwide; though, the sector saw a brief rebound during the Trump administration that ended in January 2019. During the pandemic, the sector has been in a slump.

Texas led the states in net increases in the combined sectors, with 1,900 jobs added in February, or 1.10 percent over the previous month. By month-to-month percentage change, however, New York state led with an increase of 200 jobs, or 3.92 percent over the previous month. West Virginia led the states in the largest net decrease in jobs, with 500 jobs lost, or a 2.76 percent decrease from the previous month.

Overall, this report confirms manufacturing losses in January were likely a blip and that a slow recovery from major losses early in the pandemic is resuming. It is highly likely construction losses in February also were an outlier, as winter weather often slows down projects that are ongoing as well as the start of new projects. As for mining and logging, the slump in these combined sectors continues.