|OT -- general economy post -- jobs report|
U.S. Added 242,000 Jobs in February
U.S. payrolls grew more than expected; wages fell 0.1% from January
By Jeffrey Sparshott
Updated March 4, 2016 8:38 a.m. ET
WASHINGTON—U.S. employers picked up the pace of hiring in February, a sign of steady economic growth despite financial-market turmoil and weakness abroad.
Nonfarm payrolls increased a seasonally adjusted 242,000 in February, the Labor Department said Friday. The unemployment rate, which is obtained from a separate survey of U.S. households, held steady at 4.9% in February.
Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected payrolls to rise by 200,000 and the jobless rate to remain at 4.9%.
Revisions showed employers added 30,000 more jobs in December and January than previously estimated. December’s payroll gain of 271,000 was revised from a previously reported 262,000. January’s gain was recast to 172,000 from the initial estimate of 151,000.
The Typical U.S. Worker May Get Bigger Raises Than in the Jobs Report
Average hourly earnings of private-sector workers fell 3 cents last month to $25.35. Wages were down 0.1% from the prior month but have climbed 2.2% from a year earlier. Economists had expected wages to rise 0.2% from the prior month.
The Federal Reserve, which has been closely watching the labor market for underlying improvement, in December increased short-term interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade. At the time, Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen said the economy appeared to be “on a path of sustainable improvement.”
Since then, tepid overseas growth, skittish investors, a strong dollar and tumbling commodity prices have combined to roil segments of the U.S. economy. That may give Fed officials pause before they move again.
“The Fed needs to show patience,” Dallas Fed President Robert Steven Kaplan said Thursday. “This is particularly true in light of key global secular trends as well as recent developments relating to slowing global economic growth and tightening financial conditions.”
Fed officials are set to meet March 15-16 to decide the next step on rates.
Among many concerns: Energy firms have been pummeled by the fall in oil prices, the manufacturing sector has been contracting and service-sector growth slowed in February.
But U.S. consumer spending has been a bright spot. American households have been buoyed by solid job creation—monthly job gains averaged 229,000 in 2015—and nascent signs of faster wage growth amid low inflation.
Friday’s report showed the strongest job growth in health care, retail, restaurants, education and construction.
Manufacturers shed jobs for the first time since September. And employment in mining, a sector that includes the oil and gas industry, fell. Since hitting a peak in September 2014, mining has lost 171,000 jobs.
The average workweek for private-sector workers fell by 0.2 hour to 34.4 hours, the shortest week since January 2014.
Meanwhile, the share of Americans participating in the labor force rose to 62.9% in February, the highest level in a year. The measure bottomed out at 62.4% in September—the lowest level since 1977—but has crept up steadily as more people joined the workforce.
And a broad measure of unemployment that includes Americans stuck in part-time jobs or too discouraged to look for work dropped to 9.7% from 9.9% in January. That was the lowest level since May 2008.
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