The U.S. economy added 678,000 jobs in February and this strong report exceeded consensus forecast of 423,000. The unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent from 4 percent in January, edging closer to pre pandemic levels. In February 2020, the unemployment rate was 3.5 percent.
The survey period for this report closed before Russia invaded Ukraine so no geopolitical impacts are in these data.
February jobs gains were broad based but mainly in the services sector as pandemic effects wane. Restaurants alone added 124,000 and the return to schooling pushed education jobs up by 112,000. Professional and business services added 95,000 jobs.
The participation rate is 62.3 percent, still 1.1 percentage points below February 2020. Participation rates are still lower than before the pandemic as individuals with young children may struggle to find childcare. The composition of the labor force is also changing as some baby boomers are taking early retirements.
In February, 13 percent worked remotely because of the pandemic, down from 15.4 percent last month. This percentage will likely continue to decline as more offices across the country loosen restrictions.
Another encouraging sign is the decline in people unable to work because of COVID-19-related business declines, either from closed or lost business. In February, 4.2 million reported inability to work because of business disruptions, down from 6 million last month.
“The February jobs numbers are encouraging but overall, this does not change expectations for how the FOMC will set interest rates at the next meeting. The big conundrum for policy makers right now is how to relieve inflation fatigue yet still protect the economy from geopolitical stress,” said LPL Financial Chief Economist Jeffrey Roach.
Wage growth is slowing. February average hourly earnings were unchanged from January and up 5.1 percent from a year ago. Looking ahead, wages may begin to moderate as the labor market loosens. Participation rates should continue to increase to pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year.
As shown in the LPL Chart of the Day, February posted one of the strongest reports in the last 12 months. The reopening process is supporting the services sector and hiring in services industries like leisure and hospitality strongly contributed to the headline gain in employment. This latest release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics will not likely change the minds of the FOMC in the upcoming meeting. Chairman Powell already revealed his preference for a 25 basis point hike in rates and this is the most likely action.
This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. Any economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and are subject to change.
References to markets, asset classes, and sectors are generally regarding the corresponding market index. Indexes are unmanaged statistical composites and cannot be invested into directly. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment and do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.
Any company names noted herein are for educational purposes only and not an indication of trading intent or a solicitation of their products or services. LPL Financial doesn’t provide research on individual equities. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.
All index and market data from FactSet and MarketWatch.
This Research material was prepared by LPL Financial, LLC.
Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial (LPL), a registered investment advisor and broker-dealer (member FINRA/SIPC).
Insurance products are offered through LPL or its licensed affiliates. To the extent you are receiving investment advice from a separately registered independent investment advisor that is not an LPL affiliate, please note LPL makes no representation with respect to such entity.
- Not Insured by FDIC/NCUA or Any Other Government Agency
- Not Bank/Credit Union Guaranteed
- Not Bank/Credit Union Deposits or Obligations
- May Lose Value
For Public Use – Tracking # 1-05252392