BLS Jobs Report: Wages Up 2.8 Percent, 235,000 Jobs Added in February


March 10, 2017

The latest jobs numbers are out from the federal government. What do they mean for job seekers and employers? Here’s a quick take from Glassdoor’s Chief Economist Dr. Andrew Chamberlain:

This morning’s jobs report revealed a robust U.S. labor market in February, with 235,000 new jobs added to payrolls and an unemployment rate edging down to 4.7 percent.

Today’s report marks a marathon streak of 77 consecutive months of job gains — with no signs of slowing on the horizon. Even the long-declining labor force participation rate ticked up slightly to 63.0 percent, with surging consumer sentiment and job gains pulling sidelined workers back into the job market.

One surprise in today’s report was wage growth. As the economy nudges toward full employment, economists have widely expected wage gains as employers compete for talent. Today’s report delivered a robust 2.8 percent growth in average U.S. hourly pay from a year ago — a sign that workers are seeing the impact of a tight labor market in paychecks.

Today’s pay growth mirrors what we see at Glassdoor. Our own Local Pay Reports showed median pay for full-time U.S. workers grew at a 2.9 percent pace in February, with some of the highest gains among low-skilled retail and warehouse roles, as well as many health care jobs. Wage gains were particularly strong in Los Angeles and Chicago, while pay gains are lagging behind in tech-heavy San Francisco.

Today’s strong jobs report comes as little surprise to many economists, with one of the warmest Februarys on record, and an economy riding a wave of post-election optimism and a White House promising major tax cuts, an infrastructure spending boom and regulatory relief.

The industries with the strongest job gains were construction (+58,000 jobs), professional and business services (+37,000 jobs), and health care (+32,500 jobs). Interestingly, the long-declining manufacturing sector added 28,000 jobs in February as well. The slowest pace of jobs gains was in retail (-26,000 jobs), motor vehicles and parts (-3,500 jobs) and utilities (-1,000 jobs).

With the economy 92 months into the current economic expansion — the third longest on record — it remains to be seen how long the economy can continue today’s pace of job growth. Today’s figures will almost certainly encourage Federal Reserve policymakers leaning toward an interest rate hike at the upcoming March meeting — something we’ll be watching closely in coming weeks.

To speak with Dr. Andrew Chamberlain about today’s jobs report or to discuss labor market trends, contact pr at Glassdoor dot com. For the latest economics and labor market updates, follow @adchamberlain on Twitter and subscribe to Glassdoor Economic Research.