By Tank Murdoch
(TNS) Despite a temporary blip in the markets driven by what we like to call ‘coronavirus hysteria’ last month, it’s clear that the Trump economy is roaring along and continuing to smash records.
According to federal labor statistics released Friday, job growth in February — typically a slow month — skyrocketed, blowing past expectations as the unemployment rate dropped back to 3.5 percent.
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The Labor Department reported that the economy added an astounding 273,000 jobs last month, far more than the 175,000 anticipated by market and labor analysts surveyed by Dow Jones.
The unemployment rate of 3.5 percent is the lowest in 50 years, CNBC reported, adding:
Average hourly earnings grew by 3% over the past year, in line with estimates, while the average work week, considered a key measure of productivity, nudge up to 34.4 hours.
There was more good news for the jobs market: the previous two months’ estimates were revised higher by a total of 85,000. December moved up from 147,000 to 184,000, while January went from 225,000 to 273,000. Those revisions brought the three-month average up to a robust 243,000.
The network reported that job gains in health care and social assistance led the way with 57,000 new positions, followed by food services and bars, both of which added 53,000. Government employment grew by 45,000 and, notably, construction by 42,000 jobs.
And while cases of coronavirus rose to 100,000 worldwide (by far, most of these are in China, the epicenter), fears seem overblown given job growth. Yet, analysts predict that if cities and states in the U.S. overreact and start closing schools and businesses, naturally job growth will take a hit.
Fox Business reports:
Although consumer confidence remains near historic highs and the labor market is chugging along at a healthy pace, concerns are mounting about how the coronavirus outbreak could affect Chinese, and global, growth.
Companies, by and large, were surveyed about their payroll before the virus began to impact growth.
“It’s a little like the saying, ‘the car was in fine condition before being involved in a collision,'” Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com, told Fox Business. “The new reality amid tremendous uncertainty is the world has experienced a seismic shift, reflected recently in financial markets in anticipation of potentially damaging economic impacts still to come since the February jobs data was collected.”
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Fair enough. But there’s also this: U.S. economic growth stemming from the Trump administration’s historic trade deals will begin this year, which should ramp up GDP, hiring, and, of course, consumer spending. And at some point the coronavirus will be a non-factor.
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