The Labor Department releases its February accounting of the U.S. labor market Friday. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expect employers added 205,000 jobs during the month and see the unemployment rate ticking down to 4.0%. Here are five thing to watch in the report.
1. A new low
If the unemployment rate falls from the 4.1% level where it has held since October, it would be the first time joblessness was at or below 4% since December 2000. To put that in perspective, Amazon was known then as an online bookseller. But while the headline unemployment rate is trending near a two-decade low, a broader measure that includes those too frustrated to look for work and those stuck in part-time jobs remains somewhat elevated compared with past economic expansions. That rate, known as the U-6, has edged up in recent months and suggests there is additional slack in the labor market.
2. Job-growth trend
Economists expect employers added at least 200,000 workers to payrolls for the second straight month (and fourth month in the past five). That would start off 2018 at a better hiring pace than last year’s average monthly job growth of 181,000. An acceleration in hiring runs counter to economists’ expectation for job gains to ease in a historically tight labor market.
The Wall Street Journal