Jobs Friday is here…it’s the first Friday of the month, and that means the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) releases information on the health of the US Labor Market. Today we learn how many non-farm payrolls (aka jobs) were added in February, along with any change in the unemployment rate. We’ll also get revisions to previous months’ reports. The fact that these number get revised (both up and down) just shows how little we should really take away from it, but Wall Street and the financial media love Jobs Friday. They will dissect the data in hopes of being able to predict what the Federal Reserve will do next. They’ll also try to interpret the health of the overall economy, the impact to our investments, and where we should be investing to take advantage of the data. And they will do this with the utmost confidence. You should ignore the hype and stick with your long term plan. Today’s events aren’t impacting your life (or investments) 20 years down the road. Ok, now for the numbers you’ve been waiting for…
In February, the US economy added 242,000 jobs, which was higher than anticipated; economists expected 190,000 jobs to be added. Don’t ask me how they come up this number…it’s never right. December and January payroll numbers were revised upwards, meaning we added more jobs than originally reported. The unemployment rate stayed at 4.9%. All in all, these are pretty good numbers for the US economy, which as recent as last week, was doomed to be in a Recession. These numbers do not suggest a Recession–just continued slow growth.
Not all of the data was positive, and it continues to be in areas that have been weak. The average hourly work week declined (people are working less hours), and the average hourly wage declined. In order to see the pace of growth in the US economy pick up, we need to see wage growth begin to increase. Until this happens, the status quo will most likely continue.
So, the takeaway from today’s report is pretty simple: more people are working, and less people are on their couches. But, those working aren’t seeing their income grow as fast as we’d like. We’ll see what happens in March next month.
This post was brought to you with the help of Kendrick Lamar’s surprise release. I often listen to music as I write, and I will provide my soundtrack on each post.
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