The February jobs report was released this morning, and it arrived with a bang on Wall Street -- where markets rallied -- and in Washington. Experts were anticipating the US economy to have added somewhere in the ballpark of 200,000 jobs last month. The real number? Much, much higher, in a major win. Sizzling:
The economy added 313,000 jobs in February, crushing expectations, while the unemployment rate remained at 4.1 percent, according to a Labor Department report Friday that could help quell inflation fears. Economists surveyed by Reuters had been expecting nonfarm payroll growth of 200,000 and the unemployment rate to decline one-tenth of a percent to 4 percent. An increase in the labor force participation rate to its highest level since September 2017 helped keep the headline unemployment number steady, as the number of those counted as not in the workforce tumbled by 653,000 to just over 95 million. The total counted as "employed" in the household survey surged by 785,000 to a record 155.2 million.
This is robust stuff for mid-winter statistics. Wages increased by a fraction of a percentage point, too, though that growth came at a slower pace than last month. Ed Morrissey notes one number buried in the data that the Trump administration will likely celebrate: "The drop in African-American unemployment is worth noting, mainly because the White House has been particularly focused on this as a metric. Donald Trump bragged about a sharp decline in this measure during his State of the Union address in January, only to see it tick back up again. This report shows the lowest level of unemployed blacks by numbers as well as a percentage since 2001 at 558,000. Expect to hear more bragging from the White House over that number." Is there a tax reform angle to today's good news? There sure is. Via the Associated Press:
Last month’s hiring surge might have reflected, in part, confidence among some businesses that the Trump administration’s tax cuts will accelerate consumer and business spending. Consumer optimism jumped to its highest level since 2000 last month, likely reflecting higher after-tax incomes resulting from the tax cuts. Hiring was solid across a wide range of industries in February, including higher-paying sectors such as construction, which added 61,000 jobs, the most since 2007, before the Great Recession began. Retailers added 50,000, the most in two years. Financial services gained 28,000, the biggest increase since 2005. The government also revised up its estimate of job growth in December and January by a combined 54,000. The consistently strong pace of hiring has led many more people who had been on the sidelines to start looking for work. Most of those new job seekers found work in February...
The AP story goes on to warn that economic harm caused by President Trump's foolish (but at least somewhat watered down) tariff policies could undo some of the undeniable progress made by Trump's other economic moves -- specifically deregulation and tax cuts. It's mind-boggling that the president would spurn the advice of most of his own economic team and virtually all economists by risking a costly trade war at a moment when his achievements can and should be front and center. Even the New York Times can't do anything but begrudgingly applaud the "humming" jobs economy:
Remember the Senate polling we wrote up yesterday? You'd better believe Republicans in each of the states we mentioned will be pressing their advantage, challenging incumbent Democrats over their lockstep opposition to the increasingly-popular and empirically working tax law. On that note, I'll leave you with the statement put out this morning by one of the leading GOP candidates running to defeat Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin: “It is getting harder and harder for Sen. Baldwin to deny the positive impact tax reform is having on the state and national economy. Because of the $8 billion in tax cuts I've helped Gov. Walker pass, and the efforts of President Trump and Republicans in Congress to reduce bureaucratic regulations and the overall tax burden, our economy is thriving. When I get to Washington, I look forward to delivering one more vote for lower taxes, less government intrusion and a brighter economic future for our workers and families." Baldwin, like every Democrat in Congress, voted against the pro-growth tax cuts and reforms that have added rocket fuel to the economy.