Published: Sat, March 10, 2018
Economy | By

Pennsylvania's January jobless rate stable, payrolls shrink

Pennsylvania's January jobless rate stable, payrolls shrink

The unemployment rates for black Americans, recent veterans and people in their early 20s fell sharply in February, even as the national jobless rate held steady at 4.1 percent.

Construction employment was estimated to increase by 34.4 hours, after slipping to 34.3 hours in January.

A government report that showed a hefty 313,000 created last month as sidelined workers rejoined the labour force while wage pressures remained muted could help dispel any views at the Federal Reserve that the United States is running dry on workers.

Industry employment for the most part has increased steadily the last year-and-a-half, thanks in large part to the uptick in drilling activity in hot shale plays like the Permian.

The focus of this report was wage growth.

The other side of this debate might be called the "let it run" camp, who argue that a lot of good things might happen if the Fed and other policymakers move patiently and see whether some of the damage done by the 2008 recession might fix itself in a sufficiently hot economy.

While Powell said there was no evidence of the economy overheating, he added "the thing we don't want to have happen is to get behind the curve". However, there was no change in the unemployment rate of 4.1 percent in the month.

In December, the Fed projected three quarter-percentage-point interest rate increases in 2018, with the next one expected later this month.

Payrolls rose 313,000 in February, compared with the 205,000 median estimate in a survey of economists, and the two prior months were revised higher by 54,000, Labor Department figures showed Friday. The dollar .DXY was largely unchanged against a basket of currencies.

In the meantime, economists are calculating how the Trump administration's decision Friday to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum might affect the job market. January saw 200,000 workers added to USA firms, paired with earnings' growth of 2.9 percent, appreciably above the 2.5 percent seen over the course of 2017.

"We have an economy that is firing on all cylinders and the job market is a reflection of that", said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Bank.

Ellen Zentner, chief US economist at Morgan Stanley, agreed. "There's no reason whatsoever for the Federal Reserve to have a stimulative monetary policy at this stage of the business cycle". However, the January rate compares with 4.6 percent for California and 4.5 percent for the nation. The BLS reported that the number of long-term unemployed dropped by 369,000 in February, reflecting the reentry of many back into the labor force.

Consumers are also optimistic, likely because after-tax income grew at the fastest pace in a year last month, aided by the tax cuts.

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