The U.S. economy is healthier than it’s been in quite some time, and it just added another 313,000 jobs last month. February’s number marks the biggest monthly gain since October 2015.
The unemployment rate remained at 4.1% because so many new jobs are being created, people, who had been sitting on the sidelines, are returning to the labor force. In fact, according to Investors’ Business Daily, “653,000 people rejoined the labor force in February, the biggest monthly increase in more than a decade.”
Even better, the addition of 313,000 jobs was exceptionally higher than analysts’ expectations for 205,000.
Employers added 61,000 construction jobs, and healthcare increased by 19,000.
Manufacturing went up 31,000, increasing the number of manufacturing jobs added under the Trump presidency to 263,000. The last time there were more manufacturing jobs in the U.S. was in December 2008.
Even more notable were the 50,300 additional retail jobs, which wiped out all of the retail losses we have seen over the past several months.
“The upturn in the U.S. labor market will continue, with the effect of the tax reform, the weak U.S. dollar, interest rates are still low, and I expect more investment,” said Dirk Chlench, head of bond research at Landesbank Baden-Wuerttemberg, as quoted by Bloomberg. “There’s every reason to be optimistic about the U.S. economy."
And there’s more good news.
A modest wage growth of 0.1% in average hourly earnings may have disappointed workers, but it did cool worries that competition for workers was driving up salaries and igniting inflationary concerns. “A strong jobs report with less wage inflation tells the market that current concern about the wage issue is overblown,” said Jonathan Golub, chief United States equity strategist at Credit Suisse, as quoted by The New York Times. “The market has to think that is terrific.”
Year over year, the average wage increase is 2.6%.
"We are really firing on all cylinders," says Josh Wright, chief economist at iCIMS, as quoted by CNN. "It just shows how broad the growth and the positive feelings are across the economy."
Going forward, there should be further upside.
In fact, “unless employment slows dramatically, the unemployment rate will go to 3.5%" in 2019. That would be a 50-year low for the jobless rate,” notes Morningstar.
These are exciting times, and The Cheap Investor will keep you informed of new developments.