Economy beats February forecast, adds 313K jobs

Sunday, 11 Mar, 2018

It also easily eclipsed January's total of 239,000 new jobs, which was revised upward from 200,000.

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.

But Jed Kolko, chief economist with employment website, does a monthly calculation excluding weather-sensitive industries - construction, mining and leisure and hospitality - and said his figures show there was no impact last month. Most of those new job seekers found work in February, leaving the number of unemployed little changed. And other data in the latest report matches that idea. They grew by 0.3 percent in January.

It was accompanied by the biggest surge in 15 years in the number of people either working or looking for work.

“ABC has been indicating that 2018 would represent the best year for the US economy since at least 2005, ” said Basu.

But judging from recent comments, at least, it seems unlikely that the Fed will pay heed to those arguments. 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. The U.S. Labor Department reports a net gain of 313,000 jobs in February. Average hourly earnings for production and non-supervisory workers, which economists say are better measured, increased 0.3 percent in February.

Franchise employment rose by 24,700 jobs in February, including 1,500 in auto parts and dealers, according to ADP.

"I would have expected to see more increases in wages, and frankly I do expect to see more increases in wages in the next year or so", Fed Chairman Jerome Powell told members of Congress last week.

For those who want a robust recovery, it's a delicate balance on wages. Data for December and January were revised to show the economy creating 54,000 more jobs than previously reported. Yet barely a month after the tax cuts became law, investors shifted their focus to the potential consequences: Faster growth that might intensify inflation and lead the Fed to accelerate its rate hikes.

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. If that trend continues - and it's worth adding the usual caveat that each month's jobs numbers are subject to revision and statistical error - there's no reason to think this expansion is reaching its natural end.

Despite all this good progress, it's troubling to now see the White House embrace trade policies that could potentially stunt the growth we are currently enjoying.

The move, which adds a 25% tariff on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminum tariffs from every country except Mexico and Canada, could cost the industry almost 30,000 jobs, according to a study by The Trade Partnership.