The Labor Department reported that 295,000 workers were added to the job market in February, dipping the unemployment rate yet again. Unemployment fell to “5.5 percent, its lowest since mid-2008, down from 5.7 percent in January,” according to the New York Times.
Job placements were across industries, including retail, health care, and business services. Retail in particular added 32,000 jobs last month, leading the pack for jobs recovery.
On the contrary, energy companies are cutting back on employment due to the low oil prices. February made the second straight month that energy jobs dropped. Fortunately, the drop was mild. Even with the cutbacks, the industry still largely contributed to job growth amid the recovery.
As for wages, weekly earnings only rose 2% in February compared to a year ago. CNN reports that “In a healthy economy, wages gains are between 3.5% and 4%.” Before it raises its key interest rate, the Federal Reserve wants to see better wage growth. Many economists are making claims that as job growth continues, wages should eventually follow suit.
Jim O’Sullivan, Chief U.S. Economist at High Frequency Economics, tells CNN that wages should increase as long as the unemployment stays at or below 5.5%. He suggests “it’s not unreasonable to think at some point in the next year, we’re going to get more clear cut wage acceleration.”
Overall, the job growth in February is a very good sign of a strengthening economy.