The economy added 200,000 jobs to public and private non-farm payrolls last month, according to this morning’s report from the Labor Department. The tally exceeded estimates from economists, who predicted average gains of 180,000 jobs, according to Reuters.
The unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.1 percent, a 17-year low. Employment increased in construction (+36,000 jobs), food services and drinking places (+31,000 jobs), healthcare (+21,000 jobs) and manufacturing (+15,000 jobs).
Other industries were essentially flat for the month, including wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, professional and business services, mining and government.
Is Sustained Wage Growth Around the Corner?
Average hourly earnings increased last month by 9 cents to $26.74, after increasing by 11 cents an hour in December. The question is whether that growth will continue and accelerate as the labor market grows tighter and employers have to compete for workers.
Many economists are predicting that workers will finally get the fatter paychecks that have eluded them since the end of the Great Recession.
“I think this is the year that we will start to see some wage pressure,” says Dan North, chief economist at Euler Hermes North America, speaking with The New York Times.
“There are signs that employers may be loosening their purse strings,” writes Ben Casselman at The Times. “A separate report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics this week found that private-sector wages and salaries rose 2.8 percent in the last three months of 2017, compared with a year earlier, the fastest growth since the recession. But other measures have found that pay growth is slowing.”
The PayScale Index, which measures the change in pay for employed U.S. workers, recorded 2.7 percent year-over-year growth for Q4 2017. Real wages — the buying power of workers’ pay with inflation taken into account — have declined 6.7 percent since 2006.
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