February Jobs Report Underwhelms, but Economy Remains Strong

COMMENTARY Jobs and Labor

February Jobs Report Underwhelms, but Economy Remains Strong

Mar 8th, 2019 2 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Tim Doescher

Associate Director, Coalition Relations

Tim is the Associate Director of Coalition Relations.
The February jobs report fell short of expectations, but most signs point to a healthy economy. Alistair Berg/Getty Images

Key Takeaways

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that employers added 20,000 jobs in February, falling well below expert predictions that estimated 180,000 jobs added.

This signals that those who want to find job, can easily find one. In addition, upward revisions from December and January added 12,000 jobs to the workforce.

While the total number of jobs created in February was lower than predicted, the economy continues to show many signs that we are headed in the right direction.

On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that employers added 20,000 jobs in February, falling well below expert predictions that estimated 180,000 jobs added.

While this number can and should be higher, the report also reflects that the job market in general is still strong; posting 101 consecutive months of job creation, showing a steady increase of wages for Americans.

More Americans are employed than ever before. 

The report showed that the unemployment rate fell from 4 percent in January to 3.8 percent in February, and the labor force participation rate was essentially unchanged. In addition, the U-6 unemployment number, which measured both discouraged workers who aren’t currently looking for work as well as those holding jobs part time for economic reasons, fell to a five-month low from 8.1 percent to 7.3 percent.

This signals that those who want to find job, can easily find one. In addition, upward revisions from December and January added 12,000 jobs to the workforce. 

Among the major worker groups: The unemployment rates for adult men (3.5 percent), whites (3.3percent), and Hispanics (4.3 percent) decreased in February. The jobless rates for adult women (3.4 percent), teenagers (13.4 percent), and Asians (3.1 percent) showed little or no change over the month. 

While African-American unemployment did increase slightly, climbing from 6.8 percent in January to 7 percent in February, the unemployment rate for disabled Americans dropped to a low of 8 percent in 2018. 

Digging deeper into the jobs numbers: We saw gains in professional and business services (+42,000), health care (+21,000 jobs), wholesale trade (+11,000), and manufacturing (+4,000). We did, however, see losses in construction (-31,000 jobs) and mining (-5,000 jobs). 

One of the more positive aspects of the report showed the continuation of a steady increase in wages, as average hourly earnings for all employees rose by 11 cents to $27.66. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by 3.4 percent—far outpacing the rate of inflation, and continuing to show that employers are serious about filling the now 7.3 million open jobs in America. 

But we can do better, and policy matters. 

Manufacturers, farmers, and business owners all around the country are trying to plan for the future, and it’s difficult to do that when uncertainty exists. The president and Congress were right to lower taxes and reduce regulation for all Americans.

However, imposing new taxes in the form of tariffs is throwing cold water on the fire.

In addition, any boost tax cuts and regulatory reform given to the economy continues to be gobbled up by out-of-control spending by the federal government—driven by both sides of the aisle.

The jobs report is just one of many signals of the health of our economy.

While the total number of jobs created in February was lower than predicted, the economy continues to show many signs that we are headed in the right direction.

It’s time for both sides of the aisle to come together and enact policy that will ensure this month is an outlier.

This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal