By CASEY HARPER
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – The latest jobs report released Friday showed better than expected numbers for February.
“Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 678,000 in February, and the unemployment rate edged down to 3.8 percent,” the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said. “Job growth was widespread, led by gains in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, health care, and construction.”
That job growth surpassed experts’ predictions of 440,000 new jobs and a 3.9% unemployment rate. The gains have come as a rebound from the pre-COVID-19-pandemic shutdowns.
“In February 2020, prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the unemployment rate was 3.5 percent, and the number of unemployed persons was 5.7 million,” BLS said.
BLS said about 6.3 million Americans were unemployed and many still are underemployed.
“The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons increased by 418,000 to 4.1 million in February but remains below its February 2020 level of 4.4 million,” BLS said. “These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs.”
President Joe Biden touted the job creation Friday.
“Our economy has now added 7.4 million jobs since I took office. 678,000 jobs added just last month. And unemployment is down to 3.8%,” he said on Twitter. “This is what Building a Better America looks like.”
Despite the job gains, inflation remains a persistent problem. Biden addressed the issue Tuesday in his State of the Union address, which came just a few days after personal consumption expenditure data showed aggressive price increases.
The consumer price index, another key marker of inflation, is at the highest level in about 40 years, which means despite the increase in wages, Americans’ paychecks are still shrinking because of inflation.
“February’s jobs report is further proof that with emergency COVID jobless benefits ending, Americans are reconnecting to work,” U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said. “But there are real red flags looming, including a large drop in real wages for workers, a wage-price spiral driving inflation higher, and a growing consensus among economists that a recession this year is more likely than not. President Biden offered no real solutions to any of this in his State of the Union remarks. In fact, his obsession with Build Back Better – which is dead – will only make inflation worse and do little to stave off a crippling wage-price spiral.”