Nonfarm Payrolls increased by 273K in February vs. 175K expected

Nonfarm Payrolls increased by 273K in February vs. 175K expected

The state has gained 9,900 non-farm jobs since last January, with 2,900 of those coming since last month. This brought average job gains over the past three months up to 243,000, or above the average from 2019, when job growth averaged 178,000 per month. All of the gains were concentrated in full-time work and the private sector. Food services and drinking places both added 53,000 while government employment grew by 45,000. Professional and business services also posted strong job gains, adding a net 41,000 positions.

Payrolls in the leisure and hospitality sector surged by 51,000 jobs.

The unemployment rate dropped from 3.6% in January to 3.5% in February. An additional 85,000 jobs were added in those two months.

Economists on average had expected the agency would report an increase of 10,000 jobs for February and an unemployment rate of 5.6 per cent, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

The labor force participation rate is 63.4%, almost the highest level since mid-2013.

Estimates from the Kansas Department of Labor and The Bureau of Labor Statistics show an adjusted unemployment rate of 3.1 percent, which is the same as December.

The first known deaths linked to the coronavirus in the US took place last week. The number of new confirmed cases in the USA began to accelerate in late February, coinciding with a rise in global new cases and sparking fears of a pandemic that would dent company supply chains, consumer demand, and ultimately threatened to stunt economic growth worldwide. "If things don't change in the coming months, American workers may not see big wage gains in 2020". Economists had been looking for payroll growth of 175,000 and a 3.5% jobless rate.

The report, however, reaffirmed the USA economy's momentum at the start of the year, in absence of a major escalation of the outbreak.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell acknowledged the economy's strong fundamentals, but said "the coronavirus poses evolving risks to economic activity". "Yes, this was stale". "You want to be in a position of strength when a crisis hits".

Canada's job market strengthened for a third-straight month, a sign of strength within the domestic economy even as the spread of coronavirus threatens future growth.

The February figures "provide a snapshot of the state of the labor market before the virus-related damage kicks in, presumably starting in March and intensifying into the second quarter", Bloomberg economists Carl Riccadonna, Yelena Shulyatyeva and Andrew Husby wrote in a Friday commentary.

And on Wednesday, payroll processor ADP said companies added a healthy 183,000 jobs in February.

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance.

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