Job growth ‘stalled’ in February - ‘adding to signs of a sharp slowdown’

Coal miners attend a Make America Great Again rally at the Civic Center in Charleston West Virginia U.S

Coal miners attend a Make America Great Again rally at the Civic Center in Charleston West Virginia U.S

January's job growth was revised up to 311,000 from 304,000 and December was revised up to 227,000 from 220,000.

Just 20,000 new jobs were created last month against expectations of a 180,000 increase, official figures show.

But the mixed report was another indication the economy, which in July is set to mark a record 10 years of expansion, is slowing as the stimulus from a $1.5 trillion tax cut and increased government spending ebbs. The national unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent in February. There is so much demand for highly-skilled workers with specialized data and computer skills that employers are sometimes hiring and poaching workers when they don't have an actually job opening for them. "We believe the trend in job growth has likely slowed from the 232K average pace of the last six months, and we also expect a drag of at least 40K from above-average snowfall during the February survey week", Hatzius explained in a note on Thursday. "While the gain might be somewhat exaggerated by the small number of new hires (who start at lower wages), earnings are up 3.4% over the past year, a new cycle high".

The broader unemployment rate that counts discouraged workers as well as those employed part-time for economic reasons dropped to 7.3 percent in February from 8.1 percent in January. The Labor Department suggested that furloughed workers from the government shutdown returning to work also contributed to the the lower unemployment rate.

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Manufacturing jobs level remained unchanged over the month.

Trade, Transportation and Utilities added 2,500 (+0.4%) jobs over the month.

Information lost 800 (-0.9%) jobs over the month.

Professional and business services employment increased by 42,000 jobs in February. Some of the weakness could be chalked up to severe winter weather, as construction jobs fell by 31,000, though many other sectors were soft, including education and health services as well as leisure and hospitality.

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