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By: Beth Mace  |  March 09, 2020

273,000 Jobs Created in February, Providing a Solid Footing for an Economic Shock

Economic Trends  |  Seniors Housing  |  Workforce

The Labor Department reported that there were 273,000 jobs added in February.  This was more than the consensus estimate of 175,000 and marked the 113th consecutive month of job gains. For all of 2019, average monthly gains were less at 178,000. For 2018, monthly gains averaged 193,000 and for 2017, monthly gains averaged 176,000.  The latter data points were revised from prior estimates.   

Revisions also added several jobs to the prior two months.  The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for December was revised up by 37,000 from 147,000 to 184,000 and the change for January was revised up by 48,000 from 225,000 to 273,000.  Combined, 85,000 jobs were added to the original estimates.   Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates and from the recalculation of seasonal factors.  After revisions, job gains have averaged 243,000 over the last three months. 

Health care added 32,000 jobs in February and has added 368,000 jobs in the past twelve months.

The January unemployment slipped back to 3.5% in February from 3.6% in January. The underemployment rate was 6.9% from 6.7%.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose in February by nine cents to $28.52. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 3.0%. For 2018, the year over year pace was 3.0% and in 2017 it was 2.6%. Reasons why wages are not growing faster include the retirement of highly paid baby boomers and relatively weak productivity growth.

The labor force participation rate, which is a measure of the share of working age people who are employed or looking for work inched up to 63.4% in January from 63.2% in December, which had been the highest since August 2013.

Combined, the significant upward revision to the December and January jobs figures plus the strong February employment gains place the economy in a position of strength ahead of the potential and likely negative economic impacts associated with the Coronavirus. Despite the relatively good news on the job front, the market paid little attention to the report, with all eyes on the spread of illness across the globe. The Federal Reserve is expected to lower rates again as it shores up the economy, after the surprise 50 basis point decline announced earlier in the week. The timing is uncertain, but some expect another cut prior to the next FOMC meeting scheduled for March 17 – 18, 2020.

About Beth Mace

Beth Burnham Mace is the Chief Economist and Director of Outreach at the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC). Prior to joining the staff at NIC, she served as a member of the NIC Board of Directors for 7 years and chaired NIC’s Research Committee. Ms. Mace was also a Director at AEW Capital Management and worked in the AEW Research Group for 17 years. While at AEW, Ms. Mace provided primary research support to the organization’s core and value-added investment strategies and provided research-related underwriting in acquisition activity and asset and portfolio management decisions. Prior to joining AEW in 1997, Ms. Mace spent ten years at Standard & Poor’s DRI/McGraw-Hill as the Director of the Regional Information Service with responsibility for developing forecasts of economic, demographic, and industry indicators for 314 major metropolitan areas in the U.S. Prior to working at DRI, she spent three years as a Regional Economist at the Crocker Bank in San Francisco. Ms. Mace has also worked at the National Commission on Air Quality, the Brookings Institution and Boston Edison. Ms. Mace is a member of the National Association of Business Economists (NABE), ULI’s Senior Housing Council, the Urban Land Institute and New England Women in Real Estate (NEWIRE/CREW). In 2014, she was appointed a fellow at the Homer Hoyt Institute and was awarded the title of a “Woman of Influence” in commercial real estate by Real Estate Forum Magazine and Globe Street. Ms. Mace is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College (B.A.) and the University of California (M.S.). She has also earned The Certified Business Economist™ (CBE), which is the certification in business economics and data analytics developed by NABE. The CBE documents a professional’s accomplishment, experience, abilities, and demonstrates mastery of the body of knowledge critical in the field of economics and data analytics.

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