The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its February employment report this morning, which showed that the U.S. economy added 236,000 jobs, with the unemployment rate going down two-tenths of a point to 7.7 percent. With this good month, coupled with revisions of numbers going back a few months, the three-month average of new jobs is 195,000 per month—higher than we’re used to seeing over the past few years. These numbers, having beat expectations (as well as ADP and Moodys Analytics’ job report numbers released on Wednesday, which said that 198,000 jobs were added in February), hopefully are a strong sign that the recovery is gaining steam.

December’s employment numbers were revised up by 23,000 jobs (from 196,000 to 219,000), but January’s numbers were revised down by 38,000 jobs (from 157,000 to 119,000). While these numbers are sending a mixed message, for sure, the economy has added an average of 195,000 jobs per month over the past three months, as mentioned earlier, so the January downward revision is probably not significant (unless downward revisions become a trend in the future).

The architecture and engineering services segment of the economy added 3,100 jobs in February. After seeing a slight loss of 300 jobs in January, this result puts the design industry back on track. Before New Years, the segment had been on a roll, adding 3,800 jobs in December, 2,400 added in November, and 1,500 in October. This is also congruous with what the AIA’s Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has been telling us, which in January had shown growth in architecture billings for six straight months. And if anything, the ABI shows industry growth speeding up.

The construction industry also had another good month for job growth, with 48,000 jobs added to that segment of the economy in February. This tops the 28,000 added in January as well as the 30,000 added in December. Since September, the construction industry has added 151,000 jobs, and if the trend continues, we should see more growth in the coming months. 

As was the case last month, most of the new construction jobs went to trade contractors (residential and nonresidential), who posted 31,700 new jobs in February. Residential building construction saw a boost of 2,300 new jobs. Nonresidential new building construction saw a big boost of 6,200 new jobs—and this after having lost 2,000 jobs in January.

According to the BLS’s data, over the last 12 months, the construction industry has added 140,000 jobs. (Yes, that is 11,000 less than it has added in just the past six months.) Architectural and engineering services has added 26,300 jobs over that same time period. The BLS’s January jobs report may have delivered some promising news, especially in the revised data of 2012, but February’s report is pretty good news all around.

  Not Seasonally Adjusted Seasonally Adjusted
Industry (numbers are in thousands) Feb. 2012 Dec. 2012 Jan. 2013 Feb. 2013 Feb. 2012 Dec. 2012 Jan. 2013 Feb. 2013 Change from Jan. 2013 - Feb. 2013
Architectural and engineering services 1,294.2 1,336.3 1,315.2 1,319.9 1,313.1 1,336.0 1,336.3 1,339.4 3.1
Construction - all (sum of the below categories) 5,219 5,622 5,341 5,369 5,644 5,711 5,736 5,784 48
Residential building construction 545.5 575.5 546.4 546.7 577.1 574.4 575.2 577.5 2.3
Nonresidential building construction 631.6 672.8 650.7 652.9 662.1 675.2 676.5 682.7 6.2
Heavy and civil engineering construction 754.4 847.2 781.3 789.2 866.5 884.6 890.4 898.6 8.2
Specialty trade contractors 3,287.7 3,526.2 3,362.7 3,380.4 3,538.6 3,576.5 3,593.7 3,625.4 31.7