USA added 313K jobs in February; unemployment still low

USA added 313K jobs in February; unemployment still low

USA added 313K jobs in February; unemployment still low

But as Feburary's large increase in the labor force showed, there are still Americans on the sidelines who can be lured back to a growing jobs market and keep wages from rising more quickly.

USA job growth surged in February, recording its biggest increase in more than 1-1/2 years, but a slowdown in wage gains pointed to a gradual increase in inflation this year.

Work continued on a new development, Feb. 26, in Fair Lawn, N.J. The Labor Department reported today that USA employers added 313,000 jobs in February, the most in any month since July 2016, and drawing hundreds of thousands of people into the job market.

With President Donald Trump's move to put tariffs on steel and aluminum imports and growing talk of a trade war, February's numbers could establish a baseline to measure the impact of trade restrictions and retaliation over the coming months. That is quite a turnaround from the sluggish job growth experienced in 2016, and it is a sign that that firms have continued to accelerate their hiring as the economic outlook has strengthened and demand and production have improved considerably. Manufacturing payrolls are forecast increasing by 15,000 jobs, matching January's gain.

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.

As previously mentioned, the unemployment figure at 4.1% was unchanged from the previous figured in January.

With these revisions, employment gains in December and January combined were 54,000 more than previously reported. Hispanic unemployment is still near its low.

Despite the rise, the unemployment rate held steady at 4.1%, where it has hovered since October.

Then that decline stopped.

Some have dismissed this measurement of employment, preferring to look at alternative measures of labor utilization such as labor force participation. That's where it was in February.

An even broader gauge of labor market health, the percentage of working-age Americans with a job, increased to 60.4 percent last month from 60.1 percent in January. But the still slow growth in wages implies that while people who were on the margins are returning to work, the jobs being created are still lower wage. In December, the Fed signaled its plans to hike rates three times in 2018, but investors now fear a fourth quarter-point hike.

The number of people working or looking for work also jumped by more than 800,000 last month.

Part-time employment was also little changed at 5.2 million in February.

That's good news. Everything above is good news.

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