The American economy added 313,000 jobs in February and the unemployment rate held steady at 4.1 percent. The number of job seekers has stabilized in recent years, but last month showed a slight 0.3 percent increase from January.
Wall Street wants to know if hourly pay moderated or whether wage pressures continue to build. "Wage growth", says Bankrate.com senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick, "is the most important aspect of tomorrow's jobs report".
The unemployment rate stayed at 4.1%, the lowest in 17 years.
Wow. That may be the best one-word response to Friday's news that the U.S. economy added 313,000 jobs in February, across a range of sectors ranging from construction to business services.
"The gain in average hourly earnings of 2.6% over the past year is less-than-stellar for workers, but also helps to calm inflation fears", Hamrick said. Construction gained a robust 61,000 employees.
USA stock futures jumped by triple digits on Friday after employers helped drive the best job growth since July 2016.
While the unemployment rate dropped during the Obama administration, critics pointed to another number that was falling: the labor force participation rate, a measure of the number of people who were actually working or looking for work. But the recovery in wages, which sparked a sell-off on global stock markets, stalled again last month.
On Friday morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released jobs numbers that offered unqualified good news about the state of the American economy in February. Economists were expecting to see job gains of around 200,000. February's restrained wage growth tells us that businesses aren't yet struggling to find the workers they need.
MA labor secretary Rosalin Acosta says the state's labor force is expanding and the overall health of its economy remains strong.
Annually the report said that wages increased 2.6%.
"That's the way the Fed is likely to see it too".
"The upturn in the USA labor market will continue, with the effect of the tax reform, the weak US dollar, interest rates are still low, and I expect more investment", said Dirk Chlench, head of bond research at Landesbank Baden-Wuerttemberg. This year is far outpacing 2017, when the monthly average was 171,000.
Anecdotal reports suggest worker pay is indeed beginning to rise.
January's initial estimated wage gain - showing the biggest increase since the recession ended - had stoked concerns in financial markets that bigger than expected paychecks would lead to higher inflation and cause the Fed to shift its plan toward more aggressive rate increases.