February job growth exceeds expectations
The U.S. economy added 678,000 jobs in February — beating expectations — and the unemployment rate decreased to 3.8 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, the job gains in December and January were revised upward to 588,000 and 481,000, respectively. Despite the strong job growth, total nonfarm payroll employment is 2.1 million jobs below its pre-pandemic level in February 2020.
In a rapid reaction comment, Oxford Economics noted, “February’s healthy job report — with robust job creation, rising labor force participation and cooling wage growth — provides a reassuring message amid intense geopolitical tensions and rising inflation risks. With the economy nearing full employment and the Russia-Ukraine war likely to lead to stronger inflation, we expect the Federal Reserve to initiate liftoff with a cautious 25 basis point rate hike at its March meeting and raise rates by a total of 175 basis points this year.”
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