The Bureau of Labor released its February jobs report this morning, arguably the most important read on the health of our economy. It’s also the first jobs report to occur during a period under President Trump’s watch.
Just last year, then-candidate Trump, speaking in New Hampshire after winning the state’s primary, dismissed the government’s reporting on the labor market.
“Don’t believe those phony numbers when you hear 4.9 and 5 percent unemployment. The number’s probably 28, 29, as high as 35. In fact, I even heard recently 42 percent,” he said.
What did today’s report tell us?
After a lull in late 2016, hiring is picking up again, and so are wages.
The unemployment rate fell from 4.8 percent in January to 4.7 percent in February.
The U.S. economy added 235,000 jobs in February, stronger than the 190,000 economists had expected, and on pace with hiring in January, which amounted to 238,000 new jobs. The average monthly jobs increase between December and February was 209,000, compared with 179,000 in the prior three months. Hourly wages also increased for the month, up an average of 6 cents to $26.09, following a 5-cent increase in January according to the Bureau of Labor.
Where are the jobs?
Job creation was broad based, but the strongest job creation in February occurred in construction, private educational services, manufacturing, health care and mining. Construction jobs in particular were a bright spot, thanks in part to increased activity on the back of the second warmest February on record. The industry created 58,000 jobs in February, its biggest monthly gain in nearly 10 years. Manufacturing also came out strong, adding 28,000 jobs for the month, a three-year high.
The government added 8,000 jobs in February, despite a federal government hiring freeze (which exempts employees related to public safety) put in place in late January by the White House.
What’s the impact on consumers?
The most immediate impact (beyond how Wall Street performs) is what happens next with interest rates. The latest report makes a rate hike a near certainty and “a slam dunk,” according to Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS. Remember, when rates go up, the cost of borrowing goes up — new car loans, new and adjustable rate mortgages, and credit cards all get more expensive as rates rise.