The nation’s economy got some unexpected good news Friday when the U.S. Labor Department reported that U.S. employers hired a whopping 313,000 workers in February — half again what had been anticipated.
The hot job market pushed participation in the U.S. workforce to 63 percent as the number of jobs for the past three months grew by 806,000.
Labor’s report quelled some of the nervousness in the stock market after it reacted to President Donald Trump’s threats of import tariffs in the past two weeks.
Strong hiring was lead by the construction industry which added 61,000 jobs, followed by professional and business services with 50,000 jobs and retailers who also added 50,000 jobs. The retail hiring was welcome because that sector has been shedding jobs because of the increase in online shopping.
Rounding out the hiring, manufacturers added 31,000 jobs and the education and health care industry added 23,000 workers.
The hiring boom was the most since July, 2016 and it was accompanied by two other statistics that immediately buoyed Wall Street on Friday – the jobless rate was unchanged at 4.1 percent and last month’s spike in average hourly earnings moderated.
In January, the average hourly earnings rate jumped 2.9 percent, triggering fears of rising inflation and possible faster rate hikes by the Federal Reserve — which resulted in a sizeable stock market sell-off. Those inflation fears were dampened Friday when the Labor report showed a 4 cent rise in average hourly earnings to $26.75 — a modest number that slowed the annual increase to 2.6 percent.
The chief U.S. economist at Morgan Stanley investment company hailed the report.
“I love it,” said Ellen Zenter. “We saw a flood of job seekers into the market. We were able to create enough jobs to accommodate new seekers and keep the unemployment rate steady.”
For the economy, for the nation’s workers and for the Trump administration’s policies, the jobs numbers showed remarkable strength and were a breath of fresh air heading into spring.