Jobs Report: The Market's Inkblot Test
The U.S. jobless rate held steady at 8.3%, with the economy adding slightly more jobs than expected in February.
(Image source: Boston.com ) BY CHRISTINA HARTMAN It’s the market equivalent of an ink blot test. The U.S. jobless rate held steady at 8.3% — with the economy adding slightly more jobs than expected in February. As for what that means — well — that depends on what channel you’re tuned into. MSNBC : “More strong evidence this morning of an improving job market...” BLOOMBERG : “It was a pretty good report.” FOX BUSINESS : “It was an okay report, okay?” The Labor Department reported 227,000 jobs were added to the economy in February. That’s three straight months of job growth over 200,000. New York 1 has more details. “Employers increased their payrolls more than forecast last month, indicated companies growing more optimistic. … Job growth over the last six months was the strongest since 2006.” So — more jobs — but an unchanged jobless rate? The Atlantic’s Jordan Weismann says — consider that good news. “The figure stayed level because … the size of the workforce also grew. After months and months in which growing numbers of workers bailed on the labor market ... people are finally returning to the job hunt.” Markets reacted with some optimism. The Dow Jones gained .1% on the news — but Bloomberg’s Sheila Dharmarajan took a closer look at the numbers and says there’s not a whole lot to cheer about. “When you tear down the job number, what you’re actually find is half of the jobs number were low-paying jobs, so jobs in food services in fact added about 45,000 jobs for the month. ” Forbes’ Abram Brown suggests there are indicators of an improving economy — such as low jobless claims. But he also says... “Economists warn though that the warm winter may be artificially fueling both job creation and consumer spending, leaving a slowdown likely later this spring or during the summer.” But looking at the big picture — The Washington Post’s Brad Plumer play s the optimist. “There’s quite a bit of good news — and very little bad — in February’s jobs report. … But, for now, the economy looks to be in decent shape. As [one economist puts it], ‘Let’s call it a recovery.’”