US Adds 235,000 Jobs In February, Beating Expectations But Earnings Disappoint

The US economy added 235,000 jobs in February, beating upward revised expectations of 200K, in-line with whisper expctations of 233K. Last month's report was upward revised from 227K to 238K with the net addition for the past two months coming to +9K.

Nonfarm private payrolls rose 227k up from 221k prior and above the estimate of 215k. Manufacturing payrolls rose 28k after rising 11k in the prior month; this also beat the +10k consensus estimate.

The unemployment rate stayed at 4.7%, while the labor participation increased fractionally from 62.9% to 63.0%. In February, the number of people not in the labor force declined by 176K to 94,190K, the lowest since April 2016 as more Americans are returning to the labor force. Additionally, the number of people who "currently want a job" declined to only 5,597K.

The Underemployment rate came in at 9.2%, down from 9.4% in January.

And while the headline data was stronger than expected, the growth in average hourly earnings disappointed again, rising 0.2% M/M, below the 0.3% increase expected, following last month's disappointing 0.1% increase. Still, on a year over year basis, average hourly earnings rose 2.8%, in line with expectations. Similarly, average weekly earnings also rose by 2.8%, slightly better than expectations.

The bottom line: the number is good enough for the Fed to hike next Wednesday, although for those looking at earnings to provide color on the pace of future rate hikes, they may have to wait until the next jobs report.

More details from the report:

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 235,000 in February. Job gains occurred in construction, private educational services, manufacturing, health care, and mining.


In February, construction employment increased by 58,000, with gains in specialty trade contractors (+36,000) and in heavy and civil engineering construction (+15,000). Construction has added 177,000 jobs over the past 6 months.


Employment in private educational services rose by 29,000 in February, following little change in the prior month (-5,000). Over the year, employment in the industry has grown by 105,000.


Manufacturing added 28,000 jobs in February. Employment rose in food manufacturing (+9,000) and machinery (+7,000) but fell in transportation equipment (-6,000). Over the past 3 months, manufacturing has added 57,000 jobs.


Health care employment rose by 27,000 in February, with a job gain in ambulatory health care services (+18,000). Over the year, health care has added an average of 30,000 jobs per month.


Employment in mining increased by 8,000 in February, with most of the gain occurring in support activities for mining (+6,000). Mining employment has risen by 20,000 since reaching a recent low in October 2016.


Employment in professional and business services continued to trend up in February (+37,000). The industry has added 597,000 jobs over the year.


Retail trade employment edged down in February (-26,000), following a gain of 40,000 in the prior month. Over the month, job losses occurred in general merchandise stores (-19,000); sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores (-9,000); and electronics and appliance stores (-8,000).


Employment in other major industries, including wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and government, showed little or no change over the month.


The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.4 hours in February. In manufacturing, the workweek was unchanged at 40.8 hours, and overtime remained at 3.3 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls has been 33.6 hours since August 2016.


In February, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 6 cents to $26.09, following a 5-cent increase in January. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 71 cents, or 2.8 percent. In February, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 4 cents to $21.86 in February.


The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for December was revised down from +157,000 to +155,000, and the change for January was revised up from +227,000 to +238,000. With these revisions, employment gains in December and January combined  were 9,000 more than previously reported. Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from businesses since the last published estimates and from the recalculation of seasonal factors. Over the past 3 months, job gains have averaged 209,000 per month.