Labor Market Survived Winter, But Job Growth Was Still Sluggish

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Yes, job creation was stronger-than-expected in February, despite the exceptionally cold and wintery weather experienced by much of the country. The Department of Labor announced Friday that the U.S. employers added 175,000 jobs to payrolls last month — a pace far surpassing both December and January, when payrolls expanded by 84,000 and 129,000 jobs, respectively. While the most recent Employment Situation Report upwardly revised both of the previous two months’ figures, hiring was still hobbled, and February’s gain represented a significant acceleration in job creation. It also surpassed  the 152,000 job additions economists had forecast.

Yet, as the tweet from Justin Wolfers — a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution — indicates, the recovery of the labor market is progressing, and that recovery is strong enough to withstand such hurdles as the polar vortex. But while “inroads” into unemployment are being made, progress is still slow. In other words, job growth may no longer be bad, but it is sluggish. February’s job growth of 175,000 is approximately enough to keep pace with the growing population, and job growth has yet to return to the average of 200,000 jobs per month added from June through November. Economists say that 200,000 jobs per month must be added in order to attain sustainable job growth. The economy lost 8.7 million jobs during the financial crisis, and as of February, approximately 8 million have been recovered

But, the unemployment rate ticked up to 6.7 percent — a 0.1 percentage point gain and the first increase since December 2012. Economists had expected the unemployment rate to remain at 6.6 percent.

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