On Friday, the Labor Department reported that 235,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in February. The report beat expectations: Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal were expecting 197,000 jobs to be added. Here are the three most important takeaways.
- The unemployment rate has been at or under 5 percent for 18 months.
The February jobs report continued the steady economic growth seen in 2016: 235,000 jobs were added, the unemployment rate lowering slightly to 4.7 percent, and the labor-force participation rate ticked up slightly to 63 percent. Average hourly earnings is at $26.09 in February, which brings the overall wage growth in the past 12 months to 2.8 percent.
Earlier this week, ADP, the payroll company that puts together the monthly private-sector jobs report, said that companies in the U.S. hired the most workers in a month in February in nearly three years. The gains, at 298,000 jobs added, were due to a surge in construction and manufacturing. The Labor Department reported gains in construction, manufacturing, mining, healthcare, and education.
- All eyes are on Trump now to see how he responds.
Many are eagerly awaiting how President Donald Trump will characterize February’s jobs report, as this jobs report is the first to cover exclusively his time in office. Not only was adding jobs to the U.S. economy a core part of Trump’s presidential campaign, it’s a point he continues to emphasize. More importantly, Trump fiercely criticize the Labor Department’s numbers as “phony” on the campaign trail, stating repeatedly that he believes that the U.S. unemployment rate is as high as 35 percent. His Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, repeated this claim at his confirmation hearing.