The February jobs report is out and it’s a beat.
In February, the U.S. economy added 235,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 4.7%. Economists were looking for payrolls to rise by 200,000 with the unemployment rate dropping to 4.7%.
Earnings figures in February were also positive with average hourly earnings rising 0.2% over the prior month and 2.8% over the prior year. January’s earnings figures were also revised up to show wages grew 2.8% over last year, more than the 2.5% that had been reported.
This report, as markets had expected, likely clears the way for a rate hike from the Federal Reserve next week.
Elsewhere in the report, we saw the labor force participation rise again to 63%. In January, the unemployment rate rose slightly to 4.8% on account of higher participation in the labor force, a sign, perhaps, of increased confidence following Donald Trump’s election win.
In markets, U.S. stock futures were higher across the board after the jobs report with the Dow up about 100 points, the S&P 500 up 12, and the Nasdaq up 20. The dollar was a little weaker, down about 0.3%. U.S. Treasury yields were also a bit higher, with the 10-year trading at around 2.59% after having touched 2.6% on Thursday for the first time since December.
The 5-year was trading up to 2.11% with the 2-year up to around 1.37%.
January’s jobs report was also revised up to show the U.S. economy added 238,000 jobs, more than the 227,000 initially reported. Over the last three months, job gains have averaged 209,000.
Via Bloomberg, here’s a quick look at what economists were expecting on Friday:
- Nonfarm payrolls: +200,000
- Unemployment rate: 4.7%
- Average hourly earnings, month-on-month: +0.3%
- Average hourly earnings, year-on-year: +2.8%
- Average weekly hours worked: 34.4
Earlier this week, data provider ADP reported that in February, 298,000 jobs were created in the private sector, far exceeding expectations. This was attributed, in part, to an unseasonably mild winter, which helped to boost construction employment.
The government’s report showed that 58,000 jobs were added in the construction sector, with 177,000 jobs added in this sector over the last six months.
Manufacturing payrolls were also a positive in Friday’s report, with the sector adding 28,000 jobs in February, more than the 10,000 that was expected by economists.
Additionally, the underemployment rate — which captures not only those who are out of work but those working part-time that want full-time work — fell to 9.2% in February, a new post-crisis low. Many skeptics of the official unemployment rate, which again stands at 4.7%, have called the underemployment rate the “real” unemployment rate.
Myles Udland is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @MylesUdland
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