Hiring Soars Past Expectations, Dropping Unemployment to 3.8%

Another area hit hard by the pandemic—the supply chain—also saw improvement

U.S. payrolls added 678,000 hires last month, far surpassing estimates, as unemployment fell to 3.8% on "widespread" gains, the Labor Department said in its monthly jobs report.

That number easily beat the 423,000 estimated by economists in a Bloomberg News survey, who had also expected a 3.9% unemployment rate. Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics said growth was solid in many areas of the economy, particularly in leisure and hospitality, professional
and business services, health care, and construction. About 6.3 million Americans were unemployed last month.

The labor force participation rate was little changed at 62.3% in February. January and December's new jobs numbers were revised, and another 92,000 jobs were added to the previous tallies.

Wages, after gaining 5% over the past year, were little changed in February, at $31.58 an hour.


Supply Chain Pressures Ease

Unlike employment, the supply chain has failed to recover from its pandemic-induced woes. Still, pressures in the supply chain eased slightly last month, on improvements in outbound shipments, particularly from Asia, according to the New York Federal Reserve's latest release of its Global Supply Chain Pressure Index (GSCPI). However, pressures still remained near historic highs and some measures in the United States, including order backlogs, worsened. 

The New York Fed’s supply chain pressure index was first published in January to measure the pandemic’s impact on global production problems and prices. The index combines measures of shipping costs, delay times, and order backlogs in the U.S., Europe, the U.K., Japan, China, Taiwan, and South Korea.  

The index came in at 4.5 in December and has fallen over the last two months, hitting a reading of 3.3 in February.  And although the order backlogs component in the U.S. declined last month, the overall index for the United States improved slightly, at 2.63 after hitting a peak of 2.99 in January.

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