In this morning’s data, the economy added 379,000 jobs in February, higher than the 200k expected. The Leisure and Hospitality industry was strong, gaining 355,000 jobs in the month, while Government jobs were weak, losing 86,000 jobs. The Unemployment Rate fell one-tenth to 6.2%, even with some individuals returning to the labor force. Average Hourly Earnings increased 0.2% in February, and is up 5.3% on an annual basis, both as expected. Average Weekly Hours fell to 34.6 in February. Overall a strong headline number, driven by increases in the Leisure and Hospitality industry that has been badly damaged in the pandemic. The unemployment rate ticking lower, even as some people came back into the labor force, is another positive. However, there are still approximately 9 million jobs that have not yet returned due to the pandemic, highlighting the time it will take for the labor market to fully recover. In all, bond yields increased following the release of this morning’s data and equity futures are also higher heading into the market open.
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