Economy Adds 311,000 Jobs in February 2023 – Good News

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The U.S. economy added 311,000 jobs in February, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than expected by experts. Competitive Enterprise Institute labor and economy experts offer analysis on today’s good news.

Sean Higgins, CEI Research Fellow

“Friday’s Labor Department report that the nation added 311,000 jobs in February, bringing the official unemployment rate to 3.6 percent, is further proof that the economy is not in a slowdown. For the second straight month job gains have exceeded expectations by wide margins. The fact that the official unemployment edged up slightly from January’s record low of 3.4 percent merely reflects greater activity in the jobs market, mostly reflecting an increase in short-term joblessness as workers move from one employer to another. Job losses in the tech sector have been thought to signal a turnaround in the employment situation, but those losses were more than offset by gains elsewhere in the economy, which remains strong.”

Ryan Young, CEI Senior Economist

“The unemployment rate went up, and believe it or not, that’s a good thing. It means more people are entering the labor force after sitting on the sidelines. The headline unemployment number only counts people who are actively looking for work, so all the people who left the labor force during COVID weren’t counted in the official statistics. That is starting to change. Four hundred thousand people entered the labor force in February, though only 311,000 found jobs. With more than 10 million job openings right now, they likely won’t stay unemployed for long.

Labor force participation is still below pre-COVID levels, in part because wage growth is still below inflation. While Februrary’s numbers represent progress, there is still a ways to go.

Today’s news should also embolden the Fed to stay on course with needed interest rate increases at its next meeting. The labor market is staying strong even as the Fed tightens its monetary policies. A soft landing is not guaranteed, but today’s numbers are mostly cause for optimism.”