Today’s jobs report, which showed the economy adding 235,000 jobs in February, is notable for being the first BLS report of the Trump administration. It may be tempting for today’s policymakers to claim credit for this solid employment growth, but credit is only truly deserved when the economy grows faster than expected. It’s important to remember that President Trump inherited an economy that was already making steady progress towards full employment.
Leading up to today’s numbers, payroll employment growth averaged just under 200,000 for the last three months and, in fact, over the last year. Today’s growth of 235,000 is slightly stronger, but, for the most part, continues the trends that started long before President Trump took office.
Year-over-year hourly nominal wage growth was 2.8 percent. While among the strongest we have seen in recent months, it still does not make up for the years of stagnant wages for the vast majority of American workers. Workers throughout the economy, including young workers, workers of color, and low-wage workers, need a chance to make up lost ground on wage growth. To that end, the Federal Reserve needs to keep their foot off the brakes and let the labor market reach full employment.
In other numbers, the unemployment rate fell slightly to 4.7 percent, while the labor force participation rate and the employment-to-population ratio rose slightly (0.1 percentage points each). As the economy continues to strengthen, we should expect more and more workers, including the estimated 1.6 million missing workers, to enter or return to the labor force in search of better job opportunities.