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Trump’s first full month: US jobs, pay show solid gains



Trump’s first full month: US jobs, pay show solid gains

For a second month, US employers added jobs at an above-average pace on outsized gains in construction and manufacturing while wage growth picked up, as the labor market continued its steady improvement in 2017. There has been a 235,000 increase followed a 238,000 rise in January that was more than previously estimated, the best consecutive rise since July, a Labor Department report showed Friday in Washington. The unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent, and wages grew 2.8 percent from February 2016.

“We’re getting closer and closer to full employment,” said Ryan Sweet, an economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “Wages had been the one sore spot in the labor market data, and I think that’s coming through here. With inflation accelerating I think we’re going to start to see even stronger wage growth down the road.”

The prospect of a Fed rate increase at its meeting next week is “pretty much a slam dunk,” he said.

The weather’s influence

While unseasonably warm weather may have boosted the payrolls count, President Trump’s first full month in office undoubtedly coincides with a surge in economic optimism following his election victory. The figures also validate recent comments by Federal Reserve officials that flagged a likely interest-rate increase this month.

Bloomberg reports that private sector employment, which rose by 227,000 after a 221,000 increase the prior month — the biggest gain since July. Manufacturing payrolls gained 28,000, the most since August 2013, and retail jobs fell by 26,000, the most in four years.

Construction jobs, which can fluctuate depending on the weather, rose by 58,000, the strongest in almost a decade, and followed a 40,000 increase in January. Cccording to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,  last month was the second-warmest February on record in the contiguous 48 US states, with an average temperature of 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius), about 7 degrees higher than the 20th century average.

The Labor Department said that just 157,000 people were unable to work in February because of inclement weather, compared with an average of 311,000 for the month. In January, 395,000 employees couldn’t work because of the weather.

Payroll gains are forecast to slow down, due to factors which include employers having difficulty in filling positions, and tepid growth in the working-age population. For the full year, economists project an average monthly increase of 171,000 jobs, according to a February survey.

Trump has set a goal of adding 25 million jobs over 10 years, which would require additions of 208,000 a month, or 2.5 million positions a year.


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