Economy creates paltry 20000 jobs in February

Daniel Fowler
March 10, 2019

Economists did not immediately panic as hiring has been strong in recent months and they do not see one weak number as a signal of an imminent recession. The figures also will be revised.

Despite the drop, the unemployment rate fell and hourly wages saw their biggest gains in almost a decade, more evidence of the tight labor market.

Construction and retail jobs dropped sharply, which might have been affected in part by the cold weather.

The U.S. economy added only 20,000 jobs - far fewer than expected - last month, the Labor Department said Friday.

"If the party was over, we wouldn't see those wages coming in so strong", said Beth Ann Bovino, chief USA economist at S&P.

As of September 2018, revisions to the state's unemployment data has lowered its estimated job counts by 0.4 percent, DOL said.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 20,000 after an upwardly revised 311,000 gain the prior month, a Labor Department report showed March 8.

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"I think you'll probably find out it averages out". All is not equal, of course, but this element will certainly put downward pressure on the unemployment rate. The really good news is wage numbers.

Economists say employers have kept hiring at a strong pace despite low unemployment as more people returned to the labor force, including students, women and people who had dropped out to collect disability benefits. Monthly payroll employment estimates are preliminary and subject to revision as more data become available the following month.

The length of the average workweek fell to 34.4 hours last month from 34.5 hours in January. Hiring has been consistent in the last quarter. "The fact that our labor force grew a year ago by 109,500 shows that even with such a low unemployment rate, MA continues to attract additional workers into our labor pool to help grow our economy".

Construction lost 31,000 jobs in the month. Retail jobs fell by 6,100, while education and health services rose only 4,000 and leisure and hospitality payrolls were unchanged.

That is an indication that at long last firms are being forced to pay more to attract workers.

It supports the Federal Reserve's "patient" approach toward further interest rate increases this year. But if wage gains pick up speed, it could fuel concerns of inflation hawks at the central bank. Last year also marked the state's ninth consecutive year of job growth. Jim O'Sullivan of High Frequency Economics agreed with others that special factors may be to blame for the sharp drop in hiring.

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