CUNA Senior Economist Dawit Kebede issued the following statement in response to the Labor Department’s February Employment Situation:
“February employment gains came in stronger than expected adding 311,000 jobs. The unemployment rate ticked up to 3.6% as labor force participation increased by one-tenth of a percentage point adding 419,000 individuals to the total labor supply.
“The increase in average hourly earnings decreased to an annualized rate of 2.4%. This shows that the expected inflationary pressure from wage increases is low despite tight labor market conditions.
“The job market continues to be strong despite tight monetary policy which is expected to slow hiring. Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell, in his testimony to congress this week, said that it is prepared to increase the pace of rate hikes if warranted by economic data. Data on employment, consumer spending, and inflation so far this year are higher than anticipated. This opens the door for higher rate increase than initially expected.”