February added just 20,000 new jobs, showing a major decline from the preceding two months.
What The Statistics Show
Despite lower job numbers than expected, hiring has been strong in recent months and economists do not see this number as a signal of an imminent recession.
Analysts say the unexpectedly low figure doesn’t mean conditions rapidly deteriorated, but they point to the likelihood of moderation in job gains this year as economic growth cools down.
The numbers may also be a sign that the economy is running out of available workers. There have been fewer unemployed people than open jobs since June 2018.
Wages Are Growing
While hiring fell short of expectations, wage growth actually surpassed them.
Paychecks Are Increasing
Earnings are rising, even as the number of hours employees working is not changing.
Despite signs of slowing economic growth, American workers are taking home larger paychecks. Average hourly earnings have been consistently stronger for the last several months, and posted the largest year-over-year percentage gain since 2009, at 3.4%. Some economists question whether that pace can be sustained.
Economists say the wage gains reflect a tightening labor market that is making it more difficult for employers to find skilled workers and forcing companies to pay more to attract better talent.
Statistics Vary by Industry
Hiring was down in most industries this past month. However, business and professional services saw strong growth.
Weather Played a Factor
Certain sectors of the economy saw gains, while others saw losses.
A wide array of factors can impact monthly hiring numbers, some of which hit certain sectors of the economy harder than others. Hiring was down in most industries this past month, while business and professional services saw strong growth.
Industries With Growth
- Professional and business services led the job gains with 42,000 jobs added
- Healthcare added 22,000 jobs
- Manufacturing added just 4,000
Industries With Loss
- Construction employment fell by 31,000
- Retail employment fell by 6,000
- Leisure and hospitality were unchanged
Economists point to bad weather as a reason for slow growth in Manufacturing and a loss in Construction and Retail.
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