U.S. economy added 313000 jobs in February

Reuters  Mike Blake

American businesses are on a hiring spree.

The US jobs market has now added an average of 242,000 jobs each month over the past three months. That runs counter to economists' expectation for hiring to broadly ease as the labor market tightens.

Top officials are hoping the move of workers off the sidelines and into jobs will mean more output and income for the USA without wage and inflation pressures becoming so intense that central bank decides it must to hit the brakes on economic growth.

An influx of new job seekers in February kept the unemployment rate unchanged at a low 4.1 percent. Wages are up 2.6 percent in the past year. That delighted investors: The Dow opened up 150 points.

February's hiring surge points to a USA job market that remains robust, and might even be strengthening. If job growth is sustained it will put downward pressure on the unemployment rate as about 100,000 jobs per month are needed to keep up with growth in the working-age population.

"This is more evidence that the Fed will need to hike four times this year, starting later this month", he said. But it has stabilized in the past three years, even as millions of baby boomers have retired.

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"We're heating up, but there's still plenty of room to pull more Americans back into the workforce", says Guy Berger, chief economist at LinkedIn. Retails and business services added 50,000 jobs each.

Manufacturing companies added a solid 31,000 jobs.

The news comes on the heels of reports that USA consumers have also enjoyed the largest surge in disposable income since 2015. 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.

Trump broke with the leaders of his own Republican Party this week, announcing steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports in a move denounced by top congressional leaders and drawing rebukes from industry, who said it could undermine the benefits of December's sweeping tax cuts and spark a global trade war.

Economists have warned that industries that use steel and aluminum - from vehicle companies to craft breweries - could face significant job losses as a result of the tariffs. Today's jobs numbers should further cement the likelihood of another short-term rate hike by the Federal Reserve in March.

Job seekers filled out employment applications during a career fair in Jeffersonville, Ind., in September. The economy has grown, albeit slowly, for nearly nine years, making this the third-longest period of growth in U.S. history.

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