Jobs Added in February

Construction workers work in midtown Manhattan in New York

The February jobs report beat expectations, boosting markets and confirming that the US economy remains strong.

FBN's Adam Shapiro discusses the Department of Labor's February jobs report, which revealed 313,000 jobs were added to the economy last month. At the same time, other information released by the government this week showed initial jobless claims still near their lowest level in nearly 50 years, suggesting layoffs are down and employers are trying to hold on to their workers.

Financial sector payrolls increased by 28,000 last month, the most since October 2005. The rate is the lowest it's been since 2001, according to Labor Department statistics.

The US jobs market has now added an average of 242,000 jobs each month over the past three months.

"The gain in average hourly earnings of 2.6% over the past year is less-than-stellar for workers, but also helps to calm inflation fears", Hamrick said. January's rose from 200,000 to 239,000.

The average workweek increased by 0.1 hour to 34.5 hours. Although neither ADP nor the BLS track those coming off of welfare rolls, it is clear that many are deciding to go back to work and earn a real paycheck. The theory is that low unemployment will create more competition for jobs, forcing employers to boost compensation to attract new workers.

Strong hourly wage growth had spooked markets in February because it raised the specter of inflation. Friday's jobs report gives the Fed little reason to deviate from that plan, perhaps moving rates up a fourth time before year-end but not much more aggressively.

And so while wages were a disappointment, a bright spot in this report was the labor force participation rate, which climbed to 63% from 62.7%, the largest increase in this figure in years. Although, over the past 4 months, which traditionally, see the bulk of the holiday hiring and layoff, employment in has changed little on net. Wages increased by a fraction of a percentage point, too, though that growth came at a slower pace than last month. A broader measure of unemployment, which includes people who want to work but have given up searching and those working part-time because they can not find full-time employment, was unchanged at 8.2 percent last month.

The unemployment rate stayed at 4.1%, the lowest in 17 years. In December 2000, the broader measure was 6.9%. Construction has added a total of 185 k jobs over the past 4 months. Hiring picked up at retailers, manufacturers and local governments, including schools.

Job creation numbers for January and December were revised higher.

The country has added more than half a million jobs in the first two months of 2018.