Conflicting Numbers in Today’s Jobs Report

Conflicting Numbers in Today’s Jobs Report

Nonfarm payrolls surged today — up 242,000 in February — while the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.9 percent.

The total number of nonfarm jobs reached its highest level ever — about 144 million jobs in total. Additionally, as job creation increased, the civilian labor force participation rate expanded 0.4%.  December and January NFP numbers were revised upward to reflect an additional 30,000 new jobs added.

However, on the downside, hourly earning dropped 0.1% in February. On this point, The Financial Times captured the grim zeitgeist perfectly—

“But a 0.1 per cent fall in average hourly earnings in February also highlighted one of the main worries facing the US economy: that many Americans are still failing to see the benefits of the recovery and growing increasingly frustrated about it, a concern that is having an impact on the political debate and this year’s presidential campaign.”

In addition to the fall in hourly earnings, the average hourly work week declined by 0.2 hours to 34.4 hours.

While a 12 minute average monthly decline may not sound substantial, it’s a larger decline than could be accounted for by rounding effects alone.

It also represents a tie for the largest drop in average weekly hours since the end of the recession in 2009, as seen in the chart below.