Unemployment rate wobbles, stocks slip

The Quikrete Industry Dashboard displays the stat of the industry.
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The national unemployment rate edged up to 3.6 percent in February, according to data released Friday morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The unemployment rate has held steady over the last year. Over a 13-month span, the lowest figure was 3.4 percent. The highest was 3.8 percent, which is the figure from February 2022.

And following a headline-grabbing report earlier in the week that showed a giant drop in construction job openings, the bureau reported Friday that construction employment grew by 24,000 in February, in line with the average monthly growth of 20,000 over the prior six months

Also, the bureau’s data showed that employment in retail trade rose by 50,000 in February, reflecting a gain in general merchandise retailers, which saw an increase of 39,000 jobs. Retail trade employment is little changed on net over the year.

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 311,000 in February, compared with the average monthly gain of 343,000 over the prior 6 months.

This week’s updated Quikrete Industry Dashboard also shows continued volatility on the stock market grid, where BLDR and BECN sit comfortably in the top right quadrant.  Six of the 10 ticker symbols are showing declines for the year and the month. And seven are performing below the DJIA on an annual basis.

Gas prices, as tracked by the American Automobile Association and as of March 9, were up 3 cents compared to the average price for a gallon of regular a month ago. But they’re down from $4.25 a year ago.

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Coming next: Monthly sales, specifically NAICS 444 and NAICS 44413, will be released March 15. That report from the Commerce Department will be followed by the release of residential construction statistics on March 16. The latest measure of housing starts stood at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,309,000 in January. Single-family starts in January were at a pace of 841,000.

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