U.S. employment surged last month with the biggest gain since May 2018, indicating the labor market was on especially solid footing before the spread of the coronavirus intensified.
Payrolls rose 273,000 after the prior month was revised up to also reflect a 273,000 gain, according to Labor Department data Friday that beat all forecasts in Bloomberg’s survey calling for 175,000. The jobless rate fell back to a half-century low of 3.5% as average hourly earnings climbed a steady 3% from a year earlier.
The surprisingly strong hiring signals that employment was holding up as virus concerns grew, though the report reflects conditions through mid-February, before the impact from disruptions abroad as well as the intensification of the U.S. outbreak.
While the Federal Reserve has said the labor market remains strong, employment could be poised for broad disruption should the outbreak spread further through the American workplace. Such a risk to economic activity spurred the central bank to cut interest rates Tuesday in the first emergency move since the 2008 financial crisis.
Speaking after the rate-cut announcement, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said the fundamentals of the economy remain strong, citing the low unemployment rate, solid pace of job gains and steady wage increases. Still, Treasury yields have continued to plunge on signs the virus is spreading uncontained.
Source : Bloomberg