Modest number of jobs added fell below expectations, but offer reassurance that the US labor market remains healthy
The US added a modest 103,000 jobs last month, below expectations of 178,000, but strong enough to offer reassurance that the US labor market remains healthy.
The labor department said on Friday that the unemployment rate had remained at 4.1% for a sixth straight month.
Despite the lower number of jobs added the unemployment rate is now at 17-year low with average hourly pay up 2.7% compared with a year earlier.
January’s figures were revised sharply lower to 176,000, while February’s were revised higher to a blockbuster 326,000.
Economists said snowstorms in the north-east may have restricted hours worked and kept people away from their jobs, leading to the smaller than expected payroll gain.
“The surge in jobs growth has given back some ground since last month’s high (weather and seasonality could be a cause), but wage growth remains a focus of the Fed,” said Nancy Curtin, chief investment officer at Close Brothers Asset Management.
“Fed chairman Jay Powell has other issues to consider, aside from the data. The recent trade spat could impact growth and inflation and as a pragmatist, he will look to steer US fed policy to keep noninflationary growth on track.”
But others suggested the vertiginous drop-off in jobs growth could spell trouble ahead.
“The only thing we’re likely to see on Trump’s Twitter feed following this jobs print is tumbleweed,” said Marcus Bullus of MB Capital.
“Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell’s job started in earnest Friday.”
The latest figures indicate that despite the slow recovery from the 2008-09 Great Recession, the current expansion is now the second-longest since the 1850s.
Government data showed that orders for factory goods including industrial machinery, metals and cars surged in February and consumer confidence near the highest point in two decades.
Analyst said the latest jobs report is largely in sync with Fed predictions that the labor market is tight. They see the unemployment rate reaching 3.6% at the end of next year.
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