Economy adds 235K jobs in February, beating expectations

Economy adds 235K jobs in February, beating expectations
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The U.S. economy added a robust 235,000 jobs in February, the first full month of the Trump administration, while the unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent.

The report released Friday exceeded expectations and continued the 77-month-long expansion of the labor market that started under former President Obama. Job gains have averaged 209,000 over the past three months. 

Trump retweeted a story on the jobs report but didn’t make any stand-alone comments on the healthy February numbers.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer commented: “Not a bad way to start day 50 of this administration.”

The strong numbers are all but certain to ensure the Federal Reserve raises rates during its meeting next week.

"With the jobs report behind and barring the truly unforeseen, the Federal Reserve has a green light to raise interest rates by 25 basis points at the March meeting,” said Mark Hamrick, Bankrate.com senior economic analyst.

“Right now, at least two more rate hikes seem possible for the balance of 2017,” Hamrick said.

The president has painted a dour picture of the economy he inherited and, in fact, ran on what he has argued were severe shortcomings under the Obama administration.

During the campaign Trump implored supporters not to "believe those phony numbers,” calling the monthly jobs number one of the “biggest hoaxes.”

Since taking office, however, he has all but embraced the government data along with separate numbers that track private-sector growth, which have shown strong growth since he took office.

Trump has vowed to bring jobs back to U.S. shores behind tax reform that his administration says will in turn accelerate the nation's economic growth.

“While we still have much more work to do, I'm optimistic that the actions that President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don’t want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia MORE and House Republicans are taking will add to this momentum, creating more jobs, growing families’ paychecks and improving the lives of all Americans,” said Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyRyan pledges 'entitlement reform' in 2018 Senate approves motion to go to tax conference Overnight Finance: GOP delays work on funding bill amid conservative demands | Senate panel approves Fed nominee Powell | Dodd-Frank rollback advances | WH disputes report Mueller subpoenaed Trump bank records MORE (R-Texas), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, who is tasked with shepherding through tax and healthcare overhauls.

The stock markets are expected to continue their impressive expansion behind the strong report.

Job gains have averaged 209,000 over the past three months.  

The labor market has maintained a steady pace of growth since October 2010 after a long string of job losses during the final year of the George W. Bush administration that were further worsened by the financial crisis.

Unusually warm winter weather helped boost the February numbers, especially in the construction sector, which added 58,000 jobs, the most since March 2007.

Construction has added 177,000 jobs over the past six months.

Manufacturing also had a strong month, adding 28,000 jobs in February, a three-year high, while mining employment increased by 8,000.

“Today’s news is another strong indicator of the ‘Trump bump’ of positive economic activity,” said Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers.

“Across America, manufacturers’ confidence is high, and business optimism continues to soar, because of President Donald Trump’s laser focus on policies that will accelerate a jobs surge in America,” Timmons said.

Growth was slightly slower than January, which was revised up to 238,000 jobs, the Labor Department reported on Friday. Employment gains were 9,000 more than previously reported.

Retailers posted 26,000 job losses after a gain of 40,000 in January.

Wage growth over the year is 2.8 percent, an improvement, but economists expect stronger growth as the labor market tightens.

Updated at 9:54 a.m.