Piece it together and it looks like the February jobs report is sending a clear message to the Federal Reserve: Don't raise interest rates too fast; we are not at full employment and the economy could still benefit from low rates that continue to stimulate growth. The unemployment rate remained at 4.1% as more people who had been out of the labor force sought. Retails and business services added 50,000 jobs each.
Hourly earnings jumped another 4 cents in February following the 7 cent hike in January making for a 2.6 percent increase in earnings over the year - something that was sorely lacking during the last administration.
January's annual wage growth rate - which had triggered fears over inflationary pressures - was also revised down from 2.9% to 2.8%.
Construction employment was estimated to increase by 34.4 hours, after slipping to 34.3 hours in January.
Wall Street has been particularly focused on wage growth as an indicator of which story is more compelling - and more to the point, which story the Fed chairman Jerome Powell and his colleagues at the Fed will find more persuasive. But those gains would be more than offset, Trade Partnership calculates, by sharp job losses among companies that use the metals, such as automakers, packaged food companies and those that make industrial machinery.
Job creation in the U.S. economy surged last month, but the annual rate of wage growth slowed. But few expected the BLS to report what one surprised forecaster called "unbelievably strong" new jobs numbers. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 68 cents, or 2.6 percent, which is only a bit ahead of inflation. But the population is always growing, and when you consider the size of the country overall, these numbers really don't represent that impressive a number of new jobs created. Construction added 61,000 new jobs, a "surprisingly strong" number in the middle of winter, when construction tends to slow down, said Cathy Barrera, the chief economist at ZipRecruiter.
"With Federal Reserve officials considering the labor market to be near or a little beyond full employment, the moderation in wage growth last month will probably do little to change expectations that the US central bank will raise interest rates at its March 20-21 policy meeting". I estimate that payrolls will add 175,000 jobs in January, and the unemployment rate will round up to 4.1 percent. February's restrained wage growth tells us that businesses aren't yet struggling to find the workers they need.
First, when the U-3 unemployment rate is at 4.1 percent, there's basically nowhere left to get workers aside from those who had previously dropped out of the workforce.
For now, though, the USA job market remains the biggest strength of the economy's recovery from the Great Recession. There were declines totaling 5,400 jobs spread across health and personal care, sporting goods and miscellaneous stores.