America Created Just 20,000 Jobs in February

US adds only 20,000 jobs in February

US adds only 20,000 jobs in February

Construction jobs fell by 31,000 last month, reversing January's 53,000 gain.

US nonfarm payrolls rose a seasonally adjusted 20,000 in February, the Labor Department said Friday, marking the slowest pace for job growth since September 2017, when hurricanes skewed the data, and falling well below economists' expectations for 180,000 new jobs.

Julia Pollak, a labor economist at jobs marketplace ZipRecruiter, said many companies are becoming increasingly hungry for workers. As growth in temporary help was not as weak as growth in overall employment, the temporary staffing penetration rate rose from 2.024% to 2.028% for the month.

Job seekers speak with potential employers at a City of Boston Neighborhood Career Fair on May Day in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., May 1, 2017.

It may also be more troubling evidence of a slowdown, which has been showing up in other economic data.

At the same time, policy makers and economists might wait for several months of weak hiring before concluding there's cause for concern in the labour market.

However, it could also be a snowstorm-related fluke. Given that the temporary staffing numbers are not only choppy on a monthly basis, but also often substantially revised one or two months later, it is best to take at least a three-month average, which gives modest growth of 2,600 per month.

February marked the worst month for job gains since September of 2017.

Construction and retail jobs dropped sharply, which might have been affected in part by the cold weather. The leisure and hospitality sector added no jobs last month. The jobless rates for adult women (3.4%), teenagers (13.4%), Blacks (7%), and Asians (3.1%) showed little or no change over the month.

Job losses were posted in government (-400), and professional and business services (-100), and governmental losses were concentrated in education (-300), according to the data. But the lackluster February figure comes as growth is slowing.

The January unemployment rate was nine-tenths of a percentage point lower than the national rate of 4.0 percent reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The shutdown, however, likely weighed on business confidence, and "may have made businesses more cautious about hiring into February", Faucher said. "We're seeing pockets of wage pressure as opposed to broad-based wage gains". Among the unemployed, the number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs (including people on temporary layoff) declined by 225,000. Wages have generally been rising fastest for the lowest-earning workers, a sign that it's getting harder to find people for all kinds of jobs, even in restaurants and retail, and that minimum wage increases in 19 states in January are having an impact.

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