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Wall Street to Your Street
Job Growth Remains Strong in February
March 13, 2017 | Russ Swansen, Chief Investment Officer
Job growth exceeded 200,000 for the second consecutive month in February, with U.S. employers adding 235,000 nonfarm payroll jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation report issued March 10.
U.S. employers have now added jobs for 77 consecutive months.
The 235,000 new jobs in February and the 238,000 new jobs in January (revised up from 227,000) easily exceeded the 2016 monthly average of about 180,000 jobs, and slightly surpassed the 2015 average of 229,000 jobs (Exhibit 2).
The average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls moved up by $0.06 to $26.09, following a $0.05 increase in January (Exhibit 3).
Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have risen by $0.71, or 2.8%.
Here are some of the other key trends highlighted in the report:
- The number of unemployed persons looking for jobs edged down slightly from 7.6 million to 7.5 million for the month.
- The civilian labor force increased by nearly 300,000 in February to 160.1 million, and the labor force participation rate inched up 0.1% to 63.0%. The employment-population ratio edged up 0.1% to 60.0%.
- The labor force participation rate for those in their prime working years (age 25 – 54) moved up slightly from 81.5% to 81.7% in February, which is about 1.3% below the prerecession level (Exhibit 4).
- The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was nearly unchanged, moving from 1.9 million to 1.8 million in February, but remains at an elevated level (Exhibit 5). That accounts for 23.8% of the unemployed, which was down from 24.3% the previous month.
- The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (also referred to as involuntary part-time workers) remains high, but dipped slightly from 5.8 million to 5.7 million in February (Exhibit 6).
- The average workweek held steady at 34.4 hours, which is in a range comparable to that preceding the last recession (Exhibit 7).
- Initial jobless claims, reported weekly, remained at an extraordinarily low level. In fact, jobless claims reached the lowest weekly level in almost 44 years during the final week of February (Exhibit 8). This is even more extreme if one adjusts for growth in the labor force. The 223,000 jobless claims reported for the week ended Feb. 25 was the lowest number since March 1973, according to the Department of Labor.
We believe that if employment and other economic indicators remain strong, the Fed will make further rate hikes throughout 2017.
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Media contact: Callie Briese, 612-844-7340; firstname.lastname@example.org
All information and representations herein are as of Feb. 28, 2017, unless otherwise noted.
The views expressed are as of the date given, may change as market or other conditions change, and may differ from views expressed by other Thrivent Asset Management associates. Actual investment decisions made by Thrivent Asset Management will not necessarily reflect the views expressed. This information should not be considered investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or product.Asset management services are provided by Thrivent Asset Management, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Thrivent Financial, the marketing name for Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.