NEW YORK – The U.S. economy added 20,000 jobs in February while the unemployment rate fell slightly to 3.8 percent, making February the 101st month of consecutive U.S. job growth.
Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected the economy to expand by 180,000 jobs and for the unemployment rate to tick down to 3.9 percent.
February’s jobs numbers follow large gains made in December and January. Data for January showed the U.S. economy added 304,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate increased to 4 percent, generally recognized as the benchmark for full employment. February’s jobs report revised January’s numbers slightly up to 311,000 jobs added.
Some economists believed the government shutdown that lasted from December to late January would result in negative jobs numbers due to the number of federal government employees that were furloughed when employment data was measured. Department of Labor researchers opted to not count furloughed employees against the jobs numbers.
December’s jobs numbers reflected growth in the U.S. jobs market of 222,000 jobs. February’s jobs report revised December’s numbers slightly up to 227,000 jobs added.Economists widely suspect a slowdown will hit the U.S. economy soon, according to WSJ, and February’s jobs numbers signal that one might be beginning to hit the U.S. after a strong year of growth in 2019.
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The strongest sectors of growth in February’s jobs report are professional and businesses services, healthcare and wholesale trade employment. Wages continued to gain ground, increasing by 11 cents following a 2-cent growth in January.