Johnson: Jobs Report Good, Not Great
There were lots of positives from the February employment report, but digging deeper into seasonal, sector, and real wage issues raises some concerns, says Morningstar's Bob Johnson.
Bob Johnson: On the surface, the jobs report for the month of February was very impressive, with 235,000 jobs added. That compares to a consensus number and an average number over the last 12 months of about 190,000 jobs. So it did very well on an expectations and versus longer term averages. So on that level, it was a very, very good report. In addition, hours worked, which had been in trouble, recently stabilized during the month of February so that was good news on that front, that's another key component. The hourly wage growth also picked up a bit and it also saw revisions to prior months. So now the number looks pretty high. In fact, the single month versus the single month a year ago, hourly wages are up 2.8%, a pretty impressive number.
Then you go through the numbers in manufacturing and construction were both very strong, combined, adding over 90,000 jobs. That's really great news because those sectors have long hours and they pay a fair amount per hour, so they have a more dramatic impact on the total wage growth than many other categories. So it's impressive to see those numbers turn out that way. Then mining also stabilized. That's a sector that six months ago was taking jobs away from the economy. Now it's back in the addition category as things have bounced back in the energy sector. So that's good news. Those are also very fine paying jobs.