February Jobs Report Weakest in 30 Months


The sudden collapse in hiring showed deep job cuts in the construction retail and transportation sectors - is sure to revive worries about the dwindling supply of American workers.

The shutdown, however, likely weighed on business confidence, and "may have made businesses more cautious about hiring into February", Faucher said. February's increase was dramatically smaller than January's revised gain of 311,000 and December's revised 227,000. Economic growth overseas has weakened, and the partial government shutdown and ongoing trade tensions appear to be weighing on consumer spending.

At the same time, policymakers and economists might wait for several months of weak hiring before concluding there is cause for concern in the labour market. "And the correction now came in February with a bang, rather than spread out over various months". Turning to the household survey, the strong number was labor force participation at 63.2 percent, the highest since September 2013.

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Yet others pointed to the long-term trend - a record 101 consecutive months of positive job-creation numbers - as a better indication of the direction of the economy.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast nonfarm payrolls rose by 180,000 jobs last month.

The hiring slowdown may weigh on first-quarter GDP calculations, threatening to take the shine off the economy's in the first quarter.

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Average hourly earnings for all non-farm employees rose in February to $27.66, up from $27.55 in January. "Things are looking good!" the president tweeted on International Women's Day, although the figure he was referring to is really 3.8 percent.

The unemployment rate fell slightly to 3.8%, the Labor Department reported Friday. The dollar dropped against a basket of currencies.

U.S. stock index futures extended losses and yields on U.S. Treasuries plummeted after the release of the data. Private sector employment grew faster, adding 1,000 jobs or 1.1 percent, reaching 95,000 jobs, according to the report.

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"The unemployment rate declined two ticks to 3.8% last month, lowered in part by previously furloughed federal workers being back on the job last month and no longer counted as unemployed". The longest shutdown in USA history ended on January 25. That's a noticeable pickup from January's year-over-year gain of 3.1 percent. The decline in the so-called U6 rate was the largest since the BLS launched the series in 1994. Average hourly earnings continued their slow, steady climb, rising 0.4 percent month-over-month and 3.4 percent year-over-year, compared to 0.1 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively, in January.