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Jobs Report Disappoints: Payrolls Added Only 20,000 Jobs in February

Topics: Current Events
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Employers added 20,000 jobs to public and private non-farm payrolls last month, according to this morning’s report from the Labor Department. The tally was the lowest since 2017, and considerably lower than the 180,000 jobs forecast by economists.

“We’re not going to be able to create that many jobs month in and month out,” says Ryan Sweet, an economist at Moody’s, speaking with Business Insider. “I think we’re going to see things begin to settle down in February and throughout the rest of this year.”

Another economist notes that one report might not indicate a larger shift.

“This report is a useful time to remember that one month’s data does not make a trend,” writes Elise Gould at the Economic Policy Institute. “The past three months averaged a gain of 186,000 jobs, likely a better reflection of underlying conditions.”

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Where Jobs Are Growing

The following industries added jobs last month:

  • Professional and business services (+42,000 jobs)
  • Healthcare (+21,000 jobs)
  • Wholesale trade (+11,000 jobs)
  • Manufacturing (+4,000 jobs)

Construction shed 31,000 jobs in February, while other industries were largely unchanged for the month, including leisure and hospitality, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, mining and government.

Other Highlights From the Report

  • Average hourly wages for private-sector employees rose by 11 cents to $27.66, after a 2-cent increase in January. (The PayScale Index, which measures the change in wages for employed U.S. workers, showed 1 percent year-over-year wage growth for Q4 2018.)
  • The unemployment rate declined 0.2 percentage point to 3.8 percent. Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics: “This decline reflects, in part, the return of federal workers who were furloughed in January due to the partial government shutdown.”
  • Previous reports for December and January were revised upward by a total of 12,000 jobs, bringing average gains for the past three months to 186,000 jobs.

Tell Us What You Think

What’s your take on this report? We want to hear from you. Share your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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