For the first time in several years, the U.S. is showing signs of solid growth as the economy added 235,000 new jobs in February, says Ball State economist Michael Hicks.
February’s new jobs come after 238,000 positions were created in January, the best back-to-back monthly increases since mid-2016. Unemployment fell to 4.7 percent, and wages grew 2.8 percent from February 2016.
“The first full jobs report of the Trump Administration offered a fairly strong showing in job creation,” said Hicks, director of Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER). “Wage gains and job growth were spread across the economy. Indeed, in the seasonally adjusted data, only seasonal activities such as retail and wholesale trade saw job losses. However, construction was unusually strong, which might partly be due to warmer weather across much of the nation last month.
“This is as good an all-around job report as the nation has seen in several years. For the first time in recent memory, there is literally nothing to give a caveat about regarding a weakness.”
Hicks said another positive trend was the ability of the economy to absorb 360,000 workers re-entering the labor market as the number of long-term unemployed numbers dropped by more than 175,000 and the number of part-time workers (who were seeking full-time work) dropped by 136,000.
Wage growth also returned to the labor markets, with average weekly earnings rising more than $2 per week, which more than $1.25 ahead of the post-recession average Hicks said.
“One persistent worry has been that firms would be unable to add employees in this expansion due to limits in the labor force,” he said. ”The strong growth in wages and labor force indicate the expansion can continue.”