U.S. employers added an impressive 678,000 jobs in February, in the strongest jobs report since last summer. The unemployment rate fell to 3.8%. Year-over-year wage growth remained high at 5.1%.
678,000: Employers added 678,000 jobs to the U.S. economy in February.
3.8%: The unemployment rate fell to 3.8%.
5.1%: Wages rose 5.1% over the past year.
The headline number of 678,000 new jobs in February beat analyst expectations. Nearly a quarter of those jobs were in the leisure and hospitality sector, which includes the industries most impacted by coronavirus surges. Restaurants alone accounted for 124,000 new jobs, and no industries reported a decline in employment.
Additionally, labor force participation increased to 62.3%, though the number is still far below pre-pandemic numbers. However, the unemployment rate fell to 3.8%, only slightly higher than the 3.5% unemployment rate of February 2020. Though wage growth remains high, the Wall Street Journal reports that it has slowed enough to indicate that the nationwide labor shortage may be easing.
There is very little bad news in February’s jobs report, though some challenges caused by the pandemic still remain. As the New York Times reports, the economy still has about 2 million fewer jobs it did before the pandemic, and the labor force is still about 3 million workers smaller.
February’s jobs numbers were collected before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, so they do not reflect any impact of the conflict. MarketWatch reports that the invasion is likely to worsen inflation. According to the New York Times, the U.S. will likely see less financial impact than Europe, but there will be repercussions that can be difficult to predict. Though experts do say that Americans are likely to see higher oil prices, which could curb household spending.