US economy creates paltry 20,000 jobs in February

The U.S. economy added only 20,000 jobs - far less than expected - last month, the Labor Department said Friday.

Despite the drop, the unemployment rate fell and hourly wages saw their biggest gains in almost a decade, more evidence of the tight labor market.

"We had warned that recent employment gains had overstated the underlying strength of the USA labor market".

The US economy added only 20,000 jobs in February, a surprisingly low number that bucked the trend of huge jobs gains in recent months.

Other Services added 500 (+0.4%) jobs over the month. There is so much demand for highly skilled workers with specialized data and computer skills that employers are sometimes hiring workers when they don't have a specific job opening for them, just to have them on payroll when they're needed.

Revised figures lowered the initially reported growth of 19,900 jobs between December 2017 and December 2018 to 10,000 jobs. "The year-over-year average hourly earnings growth surpassing 3.0 per cent for the seventh straight month is good news for America's workers", he added. Since President Trump was elected in November 2016, the USA economy has created over 5 million jobs.

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In addition, data for December and January was revised to show 12,000 more jobs created than previously reported. Manufacturing turned in an anemic month after a year of strong gains. Retail jobs fell by 6,100, while education and health services posted a meagre gain of 4,000. "The unemployment rate.is in the process of bottoming".

The unemployment rate is calculated through a different survey than the jobs number, and the two sometimes diverge, which may partly explain how the official unemployment rate fell despite the slow job growth.

The February unemployment rate was 3.8 percent. The rate for Hispanic and Latino Americans, though, dropped to a record low of 4.3 percent.

He also touted the drop in the jobless rate for women. Though the report showed little effect from the partial government shutdown, the revision could shed more light on just how much of an impact the shutdown actually had on the labor market.

While optimism among USA manufacturers remains high, for example, almost 72 percent of respondents listed hiring as a tob concern. That could mean employers brought people on full-time because of the difficulty of finding new employees, although the average workweek declined slightly and many federal workers returned from furlough after the government shutdown.

  • Darren Santiago