February Employment

When it comes to economic indicators, few are watched the way the monthly jobs number is observed.  The February report must have made many people happy as the headline figure from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows employers added 227,000 to their payrolls.  This follows January’s upwardly revised jump of 284,000.  This is the third month in a row of over 200,000 new hires by the employers surveyed.  The unemployment rate remained steady at 8.3 percent as enough new participants joined or rejoined the labor force to offset the increase in those with jobs.

It is tough to find reasons to be discouraged by this report.  Private payrolls increased by 233,000; this means the country’s various governments have has slowed their monthly release of workers to just 6,000.  Hourly wages managed to increase by $0.03 an hour for the month.  Year-over-year wage gains are now 1.9 percent higher.  Slow wage improvements may be the one piece of the report that is not encouraging since several measures of inflation suggest the cost of living is growing faster than wages.  This will no doubt impact the volume of consumption and will be exacerbated if energy prices continue to move up.

Consumption is what the United States’ economy is all about, and any threat to it cannot be viewed positively.  Atlas recently wrote about the latest broad measures of consumption put out by the Bureau of Economic analysis, Personal Consumption Expenditures.  Adjusted for inflation, it has been flat.  Atlas cannot help but wonder how stagnate consumption will impact the jobs report in the near future.     (by C. Cox)