Booming US jobs market is boost for Wall Street

Share

The country has added more than half a million jobs in the first two months of 2018. It then takes a few weeks to sort through all the raw survey results and get the published job numbers.

"There appears to still be room to move more potential workers from the sidelines and back into the ranks of the employed", said Jim Baird, chief investment officer at Plante Moran Financial Advisors. It's not that we want to be buzzkills. "This happens because there are actual people making decisions on the ground".

How much better? Try.in the 300,000-to-400,000 range.

Well, what do you know?

What's most remarkable is that this is happening nine years into an economic recovery that already has pushed the unemployment rate down to 4.1 percent and generated 89 straight months of job growth, a feat that seems to have cheered investors Friday, pushing stock prices way up. The jobless rate for black workers fell to 6.9 per cent after jumping almost a full percentage point a month earlier. Hiring was solid across a wide range of industries in February, including higher-paying sectors such as construction, which added 61,000 jobs, the most since 2007, before the Great Recession began. The number of eligible people who were part of the labor force had been slipping, partly due to baby boomers heading to retirement.

Construction firms added 61,000 workers, the biggest increase in almost 11 years for the sector.

Employment in other major industries, including wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, leisure and hospitality, and government showed little change over the month.

More news: Arsenal's Bellerin out of AC Milan clash with knee injury

The stock market increased 19 percent overall in 2017 thanks to the anticipation and passage of the tax reform bill. That's a very good month. It suggests that employers are filling jobs not merely from people they've poached from competitors, but also from more people who have entered the work force.

The commonwealth's rate remained above that of the United States, which also remained unchanged in January at 4.1 percent. Not to mention that amidst that whirl of job creation, some 800,000 people made a decision to get off the sidelines and join the labor force - the biggest reentry move in more than a decade. The economy desperately needs them working because it needs the productivity they can provide, but getting them on board and getting them up to speed won't be that easy.

Low unemployment, in theory, creates wage and inflation pressure as firms compete for scarcer labor.

More modest wage growth cools fears about inflation and rising USA interest rates, both of which spooked the markets last month.

Perhaps the February numbers will change some minds.

A big question: How could Trump's tariffs impact the economy?

Share