The U.S. economy added just 20,000 jobs in February according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly report, but the unemployment rate declined from 4.0 percent to 3.8 percent.
In another bit of good news, wage growth hit a 10-year high:
Average hourly earnings rose 11 cents to $27.66, pushing up the annual gain from 3.2 percent to 3.4 percent, highest since April 2009.
Pay increases have accelerated as employers bid up to draw a shrinking pool of available workers amid a historically low unemployment rate. Average wage growth is expected to reach 3.5 percent by the end of the year, an advance that could spark faster inflation and prod the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates more rapidly.
Economists attributed to the slower job growth in February to “outsize gains in January,” attributed to unusually mild weather throughout the country. That, coupled with above-average snowfall stymied job growth in certain sectors.
The top job growth sectors in February were the business and professional services industry, health care, and manufacturing. Construction saw the biggest drop off in February: