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Exceptionally strong jobs report guarantees aggressive rate hikes to come

11 March 2018, 01:22 | Lionel James

Jobs report: Why investors fear an increase in hourly pay

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Annually, the earnings growth rate slowed to 2.6 percent in February, according to the statistics.

Employers added 313,000 net new non-farm jobs last month, the biggest monthly increase since July 2016, while the unemployment rate remained steady at 4.1 per cent for the fifth month in a row, the Labour Department said in the highly-anticipated monthly report. The rate has been in long-term decline for several reasons, including Baby Boomers retiring.

The economy has expanded for 104 straight months, or almost nine years, the third-largest expansion on record, and hiring often declines as recessions fade further into the past.

The labor market is benefiting from strong domestic demand, an improvement in global growth, and robust USA business sentiment following passage of the Trump administration's $1.5 trillion tax cut package. This means that over the last three months, the economy is averaging 242,000 jobs created, and almost 3 million jobs have been added since President Donald Trump took office.

"While the employment gains unequivocally suggest underlying strength in the economy, wage gains remain muted enough for the Fed to continue with an only gradual normalization of the policy stance".

But average hourly pay grew by only 2.6% in February from this time last year, a drop from January's year-over-year improvement of 2.9%.

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Economists point out that baby boomers are retiring faster than young people are entering the workforce to replace them, but they still don't know why so many workers appear to be stuck on the sidelines. That suggests that wage growth may accelerate soon. Financial services gained 28,000, the biggest increase since 2005. The report found that, across industries, high-skilled roles would account for one-third of estimated job losses.

But the strong growth, spurred by hiring in retail after layoffs a year ago and gains in manufacturing and construction, did not boost wages.

"The wealth creation effect of resource-oriented, manufacturing and building jobs, brought on not only by tax cuts by the Trump regulatory reform agenda, gives real hope that our nation's Gross Domestic Product will finally break through the three percent annual threshold that Obama apologists claimed was no longer attainable". The growth spurt follows a year of layoffs: About 67,000 positions disappeared from stores in 2017 - a plummet from the 203,000 jobs that were added in 2016. Even mining firms, a job-losing industry in recent years, hired 9,000 workers. The company is also paying 75 percent of employees' health care costs, up from 50 percent.

"It's getting more competitive in this market", Peters said.

The move, which adds a 25% tariff on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminum tariffs from every country except Mexico and Canada, could cost the industry almost 30,000 jobs, according to a study by The Trade Partnership. "There are more IT jobs and not as many people". Still, the administration has opened the door to so many possible exemptions from the tariffs that an accurate estimate of the impact on jobs is all but impossible.



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