USA added 313K jobs in February; unemployment still low

USA added 313K jobs in February; unemployment still low

The good news on jobs stood in contrast to major concerns from business owners and advocates about the steel and aluminum tariffs that President Trump announced Thursday for all countries except Canada and Mexico.

Paul Ashworth, chief US economist at Capital Economists said that he is not paying much attention to wage data.

The jobs report was exactly what Wall Street wanted. But the recovery in wages, which sparked a sell-off on global stock markets, stalled again last month.

Economists on Friday downplayed the inflation threat posed by the employment numbers and USA stocks opened sharply higher, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up a full percentage point just before 1700 GMT.

"This is a report that's going to strengthen the argument of some of the doves on the Fed, that people came back to the labor force last month - that's a positive sign for the USA economy", Alan Krueger, a Princeton University professor who served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama, said on Bloomberg Television.

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An influx of new job seekers in February kept the unemployment rate unchanged at a low 4.1 percent. Average hourly earnings rose 0.1 per cent from the previous month after a 0.3 per cent increase in January.

A "Goldilocks" report for markets?

Construction jobs expanded by 61,000 new positions. That runs counter to economists' expectation for hiring to broadly ease as the labor market tightens.

Clothing and general merchandise retailers hired less than they were expected to before the holidays but afterwards laid off fewer workers than expected, resulting in apparent gains for the sector after seasonal adjustment, the report said. If job growth is sustained it will put downward pressure on the unemployment rate as about 100,000 jobs per month are needed to keep up with growth in the working-age population. Considering how strong demand is for labor, policymakers at the Federal Reserve may not want to risk runaway wage gains as employers try increasingly to attract candidates, according to Bloomberg.

Higher-paying, blue-collar industries reported some of the biggest increases.

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Statewide, unemployment for the same period was at 4.6 percent. 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. Manufacturing had a strong month, adding 31,000 jobs.

In the first two months of the year, the United States has already added more than half a million jobs.

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Anecdotal reports suggest worker pay is indeed beginning to rise.

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