On Friday, the Labor Department reported the economy gained 175,000 jobs in February. The consensus among economists had been for a 149,000 increase in jobs for the month. The unemployment rate ticked up a notch to 6.7%.
In January, the economy created just 129,000 new jobs. Fears of the cold weather’s impact on the job market in February were clearly misguided. Still, the economy needs to generate around 200,000 jobs a month to keep pace with population growth.
Expectations for the February jobs report had been lowered after payroll firm ADP reported a lower than expected increase in jobs for the month. The firm estimated just 139,000 new private sector jobs in the month, lower than economists expectations of 155,000 new jobs. Worse, the payroll firm revised sharply lower jobs created for the previous three months. The average monthly job growth at the beginning of 2014 is much lower than the monthly job gains in 2013.