The U.S. Labor Department released its February jobs report at 8:30 a.m. ET. Nonfarm payrolls grew by 20,000 while economists surveyed by Refinitiv had expected additions of 185,000. It was the weakest report in 17 months, but the 101st straight month of nonfarm payroll additions.
However, January nonfarm payrolls were upwardly revised from the previous 304,000 to 311,000. Nonfarm payrolls in December were also revised from 222,000 to 227,000. That means that employment gains in December and January were 12,000 more than had previously been reported.
February’s weak job growth was largely driven by the construction and leisure & hospitality sectors. Hiring was flat in the leisure & hospitality after the sector posted 89,000 job gains in January, while the construction sector saw employment drop by 31,000. Manufacturing payrolls rose by 4,000 new positions, missing expectations for 12,000.
Jobless rate ticked down 3.8%, from 4% in January and in line with Refinitiv expectations. The report also showed that the decline in unemployment rate was largely due to the end of the 35-day partial government shutdown.
Meanwhile, labor force participation rate in February remained unchanged at 63.2%. Average hourly earnings in February rose to 0.4% from January and 3.4% from February 2017. Consensus economists expected average hourly earnings to have risen 0.3% in February and 3.3% year-over-year.