Jobs report crushes expectations, wage growth slows


The news left Republicans even more optimistic about economic progress under President Trump. "This report has a Goldilocks feeling about it: incredibly strong growth but no real wage pressure", said Luke Bartholomew, an investment strategist at Aberdeen Standard Investments.

On Twitter, the president expressed elation. The rate of inflation, which increased 1.7 percent over the past year, below the Federal Reserve's 2 percent goal, is expected to increase in the coming months. But the recovery in wages, which sparked a sell-off on global stock markets, stalled again last month. Ed Morrissey notes one number buried in the data that the Trump administration will likely celebrate: "The drop in African-American unemployment is worth noting, mainly because the White House has been particularly focused on this as a metric".

Construction added 61,000 jobs in February, with most of the increase occurring among specialty trade contractors (up 38,000), the BLS reported.

In the January employment report, a 2.9% year-over-year gain in average hourly earnings - the fastest pace since 2009 - sparked a sell-off in stock and bond markets amid worries that wage inflation was picking up enough to cause the Federal Reserve to ramp up its interest rate hike plans.

A "Goldilocks" report for markets?

All told, employers added 313,000 jobs in February. Government employment was up by 26,000.

But, the Labor Department noted that gains in the clothing and general merchandise retail sectors, which added 33,000 new positions, suffered some distortion that made the gains appear stronger.

Neil Dutta, an economist at Renaissance Macro, said Friday that, "The February employment report was an absolute knock out with strong growth in payroll employment and a sharp increase in labor force participation".

Jobs report crushes expectations, wage growth slows
Jobs report crushes expectations, wage growth slows

The civilian labor force was down 4,000 over the month to 6,414,000, following four months without any change.

But there also were signs the hunger for increasingly scarce workers was causing companies to dig deeper into the labor pool. But over the past year, the number of "discouraged workers" - those who want to work but have stopped looking for a job because they don't believe they will find one - has fallen almost 30 percent, to 373,000.

"The BLS reports for the past year have been looking really good", ZipRecruiter chief economist Cathy Barrera told InsideSources. Worker's with less than a high-school degree saw their unemployment rate fall back to 5.4 percent after a jump in December. Chris Low of FTN Financial said in a client note.

But judging from recent comments, at least, it seems unlikely that the Fed will pay heed to those arguments.

The US economy added 313,000 jobs in February.

More workers were drawn into the labor force, expanding the participation rate by 0.3 percent compared with the prior month, to 60.4 percent. That's a gain of 54,000 more jobs over those two months.

But it offered "a false picture of a "Goldilocks" economy" for financial markets, she said in a research note.

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