'Elephant Hanging Over Our Heads': Economists React To February Jobs Report On Twitter
Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 273,000 jobs in February, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday, marking the country's 113th straight month of employment gains.
The unemployment rate fell slightly to 3.5%.
Notable jobs gains were seen in the healthcare industry, which added 38,000 jobs in February, and in the food services and drinking places industry, which has added 252,000 jobs over the past seven months.
The construction industry added 42,000 jobs in February after adding 49,000 in January. Construction industry job gains in 2019 averaged 13,000 per month.
Here's how economists and others reacted to February's jobs report on Twitter.
Very good jobs report today. The US job market was really healthy ahead of #coronavirus— Heather Long (@byHeatherLong) March 6, 2020
February jobs added: +273,000
Watch whether restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues start layoffs in coming weeks #jobs https://t.co/L970EzxeP5
Totally solid jobs report. February payrolls rose 273,000, unemployment back down to 3.5%, average hourly earnings up 0.3%. Q1 real GDP likely 2.5%+. But, no one cares. Panic is in the streets.— Brian Wesbury (@wesbury) March 6, 2020
In any normal month, we would be calling this a yabba dabba doo! jobs report. Evidence of a strong -- and perhaps even strengthening -- labor market. As strong as we've seen it in generations. Enough that the Fed might be looking to raise rates to prevent overheating.— Justin Wolfers (@JustinWolfers) March 6, 2020
The industry-level data isn't showing signs of the #coronavirus outbreak yet (operative word here). #Manufacturing, leisure & hospitality strong. Retail, transportation & warehousing weak but in line w/ recent trend. Construction also out-performing...#JobsReport #JobsDay 5/ pic.twitter.com/lUIwlFN9SG— Daniel Zhao (@DanielBZhao) March 6, 2020
Last month, 51K of the 228K private sector jobs that were added were in leisure and hospitality, almost all of which were in food services and drinking places. I expect to see job growth in this sector grind to a halt for a little while.— Betsey Stevenson (@BetseyStevenson) March 6, 2020
Relief that we entered crisis with a tailwind. We need all the cushion that we can get as service sector gets hit in March as layoffs accelerating in w conference cancellations.— Diane Swonk (@DianeSwonk) March 6, 2020
I’m honestly in a full panic about leisure and hospitality - it’s a brutal combination of low pay, no sick leave, a huge source of jobs for people, and making up for goods sector slowdown— Martha Gimbel (@marthagimbel) March 6, 2020
Here's the Achilles Heel of the US job market: Wage growth is FALLING.— Heather Long (@byHeatherLong) March 6, 2020
That's really odd in a hot labor market. You would employers to keep hiking pay. Instead...
August wage growth: 3.5%
February wage growth: 3%https://t.co/ax9X56JWYk pic.twitter.com/grxwtLr5RB
The #JobsReport shows--yet again--good job growth and weak wage growth. The unemployment rate has been at or below 4% for two years, and wage growth is, if anything, *decelerating.* pic.twitter.com/KkX5lTlvp6— Heidi Shierholz (@hshierholz) March 6, 2020
What do we learn from today's jobs report?— Justin Wolfers (@JustinWolfers) March 6, 2020
That the economy had serious momentum heading into the post-Coronavirus period. And while that doesn't tell us much about what will happen over the next few months, it's much better than the alternative of starting from a bad place.
Topline takeaway for #JobsReport:— Daniel Zhao (@DanielBZhao) March 6, 2020
-Healthy report signals we have more buffer against disruptions
-#Coronavirus isn't showing up yet but is the elephant hanging over our heads (to mix metaphors)
-Mar numbers highly uncertain, depends on how outbreak & policy evolves#JobsDay 10/
In sum,— Aaron Sojourner (@aaronsojourner) March 6, 2020
1. labor market continues on trends since end of Great Recession
2. evidence that growth is slowing somewhat but not going flat/neg as of mid-Feb
3. risk from #COVID19 is real but manageable, with action.