Published: Sun, March 11, 2018
Markets | By Rosalie Gross

Hiring surge adds 313K jobs in February, most in 1 ½ years

Hiring surge adds 313K jobs in February, most in 1 ½ years

The goods-producing sector, including mining, manufacturing and the vehicle sector, added 100,000 new positions while the private services sector added 187,00 jobs.

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 number of people marginally attached to the workforce (that is, discouraged workers now not looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them) has fallen by almost 150,000 from this same point a year ago, and the number of employed black Americans is hitting record highs. And other data in the latest report matches that idea.

Over the year, the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased four-tenths of a percentage point from 3.9 percent in January of 2017. The proportion of people in their prime working years (25 to 54) who are working is at its highest level since 2008.

The country's unemployment rate remained unchanged in February at 4.1 percent, while average wages for non-farm jobs increased by $0.04 to an hourly rate of $26.75.

But judging from recent comments, at least, it seems unlikely that the Fed will pay heed to those arguments.

The U.S. saw gains in sectors that the president has specifically targeted, including construction (+61,000), manufacturing (+31,000), and mining (+9,000)-which, until his election in 2016, were losing jobs.

Most economists expect growth to pick up in the coming months and to accelerate inflation slightly by year's end. The inflation gauge that the Fed tends to monitor most closely shows an increase of just 1.7 percent from a year earlier, below the central bank's 2 percent target level. For the 12 months that ended February 28, wages increased 2.6 percent. This year, average hourly earnings have increased by 68 cents.

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For those who want a robust recovery, it's a delicate balance on wages. The bigger question hanging over markets is whether the Fed will raise the rate this year more than the three times policymakers signaled in December.

Wages also grew 2.6-percent last month compared to past year.

But the February numbers are a delicious sweet spot for the economy.

January's initial estimated gain-showing the best gain since the recession ended-stoked concerns in financial markets that bigger paychecks could lead to higher inflation and cause the Federal Reserve to act more aggressively to lift interest rates.

From January 2017 to January 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates MA has added 29,000 jobs.

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.

Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), chose the rise in manufacturing employment as an opportunity to celebrate President Trump's March 8 issuance of an order raising tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

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