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Strong February Job Growth Exceeds Expectations


Edited at 2:19 p.m. MT on March 21, 2018.

The economy is flourishing, as 313,000 new jobs were created in the past month, according to the numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor’s February report on the employment situation.

This increase reflects significant growth from January’s 239,000 new jobs, and it far exceeds the expected number of 200,000 for February — reflecting a two-month average of 276,000 jobs per month this year as compared to 2017’s 12-month average of 182,000 (a 66% increase).

Other encouraging data: The number of adults not in the labor force fell by 653,000 people, as the participation rate rose 0.3% to 63%. The proportion of people in their prime working years (25 to 54) who are working is at its highest level since 2008.

“This is good economic news, but for employers and HR professionals, it may be alarming,” said Sue Holloway, CCP, CECP, director of compensation strategy at WorldatWork. “The labor market continues to heat up and it is becoming increasingly difficult for employers to attract and retain the necessary workforce. It’s imperative to know how best to enhance and leverage your total rewards package to have the greatest impact and win in the war for talent.”

Other data points from the report:

  • Unemployment is holding steady at 4.1%; this is unchanged for the past 4 months and at a 17-year low.
  • Wages grew again (0.1%) but less than in January (0.3%). There also was a slight drop in average hourly pay (in February it grew 2.6% from last year, down from 2.9% in January).

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