This newsletter references the BLS Report of February activity, released 3/9/18.
Job Growth Accelerates in February with 313,000 New Jobs
Record-Low Unemployment Continues as Wage Growth Slows
JOB GROWTH: The economy expanded in February with job market expansion topping 300,000. When added to upward revisions for the previous two months that amounted to an additional 54,000 jobs, the three-month average reached 242,000 jobs.
TOP INDUSTRIES: Job gains in February were widespread and significant. In fact, job growth in construction and retail trade tripled, while professional and business services, manufacturing and financial activities logged twice as many new jobs in comparison to the prior month.
UNEMPLOYMENT: The unemployment rate continued unchanged at 4.1 percent—a rate it has sustained for the fifth month running and still at its lowest level in 17 years.
WAGES: The brisk pace of payroll increases seen at the beginning of the year, following tax cuts, slowed in February, with only a small month-over-month increase of four cents. That moved the average hourly earnings rate back to 2.6 percent on an annual basis.
WORK WEEK: The average work week edged up in February, adding 0.1 hour and returning to the level at which it started 2018: 34.5 hours.
TEMPORARY JOB TRENDS: The temporary jobs sector had a strong month, adding 26,500 jobs in February 2018, the best month-over-month gain in 18 months. Although temp labor penetration has come close before, this is the first time it has exceeded three million, bumping up the total number of temp jobs to 3,021,700.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? Robust February job growth significantly exceeded expectations, while modest wage growth calmed inflationary fears. Perhaps the best news for the workforce? The labor participation rate got unstuck, as more people entered the workforce than exited. In the largest one-month increase in the labor pool since 1983 (outside of census hiring), more than 800,000 Americans joined the labor force. With the pace of hiring accelerating, continuing shortfalls between labor demand and supply challenge employers to get increasingly creative in how they find, engage and retain job candidates.
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Steinberg Employment Research, The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Staffing Industry Analysts, Reuters, The New York Times, Bloomberg, CNN/Money