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Gold Prices Shake Off 313K New Jobs In February; Wage Growth Disappoints

10 March 2018

On Friday morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released jobs numbers that offered unqualified good news about the state of the American economy in February.

Data for December and January was revised to show the economy adding 54,000 more jobs than previously reported. The figure for February was also significantly higher than the roughly 200,000 new jobs that most economists had expected.

Andy Kiersz  Business Insider
Andy Kiersz Business Insider

Unemployment rate maintained at 17-year low of 4.1 percent in February, and it has kept at this level for fifth consecutive month. The c onstruction, retail trade, professional and business services, manufacturing, financial activities, and mining lead the way in the better-than-expected NFP figure.

The average hourly wage for private sector workers was $26.75 last month, up 68 cents from February 2017 and 4 cents from January. After a January uptick that spooked markets and seemed to portend a future of improving pay, wage growth in February sank back to the roughly 2.6 percent annual increase level that it has been mired in throughout the recovery.

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Overall, nonfarm payrolls were up by 313,000 in February, its fastest monthly pace since July 2016 and well above the consensus estimate of around 200,000.

Statewide, unemployment for the same period was at 4.6 percent.

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National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun predicted the positive job report would likely influence the Federal Reserve's decision later this month to raise rates, thus setting in motion an uptick in mortgage rates that could affect housing affordability this year. But the decline in wage growth dampened concerns about inflation, along with "the concern that we're about to enter a rapid hiking cycle", Bartholomew said. "We saw a flood of job seekers into the market". That pushed the labour force participation rate up 0.3 percentage point, to 63 percent. Many more people are working, including people who hadn't even been in the labor force. January saw 200,000 workers added to US firms, paired with earnings' growth of 2.9 percent, appreciably above the 2.5 percent seen over the course of 2017.

The number of people that have given up looking for jobs, so-called discouraged workers, declined 149,000 from the same month previous year. That runs counter to economists' expectation for hiring to broadly ease as the labor market tightens.

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Analysts were also closely watching wage growth, which Bankrate.com senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick said is the most important aspect of the report.

Gold Prices Shake Off 313K New Jobs In February; Wage Growth Disappoints