Hiring surge, jobs report 'as good as it gets'

Hiring surge, jobs report 'as good as it gets'

Hiring surged last month as USA employers generated the most new jobs since mid-2016, the Labor Department said Friday, but wage growth slowed as long-awaited gains in worker pay have yet to take permanent hold.

The surprisingly robust hiring, reported by the Labor Department on Friday, was the strongest in 1 1/2 years.

In addition to the job boost, the unemployment rate remained at a low 4.1 percent (the lowest since 2000), and numerous jobs created were in the crucial construction, manufacturing, and mining sectors.

The report also said the annual rate of growth in average hourly employee earnings fell to 2.6 percent in February from 2.8 percent in January.

Revised figures show employers added 239,000 jobs in January and 175,000 in December, a net upward revision of 54,000.

If the economy were really at full employment, wages should be growing much faster than this - somewhere in the range of 3.5 to 4 percent.

The economy has expanded for 104 straight months, or almost nine years, the third-largest expansion on record, and hiring often declines as recessions fade further into the past. This means we have the highest average monthly job growth since 1997.

The payrolls gain was the most since July 2016 and triple the roughly 100,000 jobs the economy needs to create each month to keep up with growth in the working-age population.

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February's hiring surge points to a USA job market that remains robust, and might even be strengthening.

The labor market is benefiting from strong domestic demand, an improvement in global growth, and robust US business sentiment following passage of the Trump administration's $1.5 trillion tax cut package.

"It was a very strong jobs report ... stronger than what we should all expect at this stage of a recovery", Kolko said. And consumers are more confident than they have been since 2000.

United States stocks rallied on the news, with the benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average soaring more than 400 points to add 1.8 percent. The bull market reached its ninth anniversary Friday, with market indexes almost quadrupling since March 2009.

The U.S. economy powered its way in February to the biggest gain in jobs since July 2016 but what had appeared to be a long-overdue surge in wage growth lost some momentum.

The picture drawn by Friday's jobs report is a mixed one for the Fed, which seeks to raise short-term interest rates at just the right pace: enough to forestall inflation but not so fast as to slow economic growth.

The Fed is considered certain to raise rates when it next meets in two weeks. Not to mention that amidst that whirl of job creation, some 800,000 people made a decision to get off the sidelines and join the labor force - the biggest reentry move in more than a decade. Since then, the economy has created almost 70,000 mining jobs. That has helped address numerous nation's long-term problems dating to the Great Recession.

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. The proportion of adults who either have a job or are looking for one rose to 63 percent from 62.7 percent.

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