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US Economy Beats Expectations, Adding 311,000 Jobs in February

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The U.S. economy added 311,000 jobs in February, according to the Labor Department’s closely watched monthly employment snapshot released Friday.[0] The unemployment rate went up to 3.6%, higher than the projected 3.4%, with the labor force participation rate increasing to 62.5%, which is its highest since March of last year. According to the survey of households conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to calculate the unemployment rate, there was a 177,000 decrease.[1] The unemployment rate, which takes into account discouraged workers and those working part-time due to economic reasons, rose to 6.8%, an uptick of 0.2 percentage points.[2]

The average hourly earnings, a gauge of wages, increased by 0.2% in February, resulting in an annual increase of 4.6%, lower than expected. Hourly earnings have increased by 4.6% since February of last year. The labor force participation rate, which is the proportion of people employed or actively seeking employment, rose to 62.5% in February from 62.4% in January.

Mixed signals from the labor market have left the Federal Reserve in a tricky spot. When inflation data seemed to be decreasing in late 2022, investors predicted that the Fed would reduce its rate increase rate.[3] In February, the Federal Open Market Committee voted to raise the rate by 0.25%, and stated that further increases would be minimal.[3]

Nonfarm payrolls increased 311,000 in February, well ahead of the Wall Street estimate for 225,000 but still a step down from January’s 504,000.[4] Employment in leisure and hospitality saw an increase of 105,000, which is similar to the average of 91,000 over the past six months.[2] Retail experienced an increase of 50,000[1] An increase of 45,000 was seen in professional and business services, and the government added 46,000.[1]

Gains in employment were most notable in the leisure and hospitality, retail, government, and healthcare industries.[5] Information, transportation, and warehousing sectors experienced job losses.[6]

Forecasts ahead of this morning suggested that approximately 225,000 jobs would be created in the U.S. in February.[7] The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ new report has revealed that the domestic job market has done significantly better than expected.[8]

There are indications that wage increases are beginning to slow down.[9]

0. “Pulling Back the Curtain: Jobs Data Show Signs of Cooling Despite Hot Headline Growth – Ticker Tape” The Ticker Tape, 10 Mar. 2023, https://tickertape.tdameritrade.com/market-news/pulling-back-the-curtain-jobs-data-show-signs-of-cooling-despite-hot-headline-growth-19411

1. “Payrolls rose 311,000 in February, more than expected, showing solid growth” CNBC, 10 Mar. 2023, https://www.cnbc.com/2023/03/10/jobs-report-february-2023.html

2. “Jobs report: US economy adds 311,000 jobs in February as labor market stays strong” Yahoo News, 10 Mar. 2023, https://news.yahoo.com/february-jobs-report-march-10-2023-124602371.html

3. “US economy added 311,000 jobs in February, exceeding expectations” NBC News, 10 Mar. 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/payrolls-rose-311000-february-expected-jobs-growth-stays-hot-rcna74329

4. “US Jobs Report February 2023: Payrolls Top Estimates, Unemployment Rate Rises” Bloomberg, 10 Mar. 2023, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-03-10/us-payrolls-top-estimates-while-jobless-rate-rises-wages-cool

5. “The US economy added 311,000 jobs in February, outpacing expectations” CNN, 10 Mar. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/03/10/economy/february-jobs-report-final/index.html

6. “Gold price gains as U.S. jobs number beats expectations in February, but unemployment rate climbs” Kitco NEWS, 10 Mar. 2023, https://www.kitco.com/news/2023-03-10/Gold-price-gains-as-U-S-jobs-report-beats-expectations-in-February-but-January-number-revised-down.html

7. “February’s Jobs Report Brings More Confusing Economic News” TIME, 10 Mar. 2023, https://time.com/6261754/february-jobs-report

8. “Robust job growth exceeded expectations again in February” MSNBC, 10 Mar. 2023, https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/maddowblog/robust-job-growth-exceeded-expectations-february-rcna74324

9. “Jobs added in February slow from January, still stronger than consensus: nonfarm payrolls” Seeking Alpha, 10 Mar. 2023, https://seekingalpha.com/news/3946444-jobs-added-in-february-slow-from-january-still-stronger-than-expected-nonfarm-payrolls

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