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Strong February jobs report led by construction boom

Federal Reserve even more likely to raise rates this month

February saw a strong increase in jobs, led by a gain in construction jobs, according to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 235,000 in February, while the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.7%.

This increase, while strong, is not quite the anticipated 298,000 that ADP reported Wednesday. However, it is up from January’s strong report which added 227,000 jobs.

But while it did not fall in line with ADP’s report, February’s gain more than beat expectations. Brent Nyitray, iServe Residential Lending director of capital markets, wrote in his note Wednesday to clients that, “Friday's payroll number is forecast to be 195,000.”

And the ADP report hit the nail on the head with its predicted strong increase in construction, which increased 58,000, making a total of 177,000 construction jobs added over the past six months.

Here are where some of the major gains in jobs occurred in February:

Construction: Increased 58,000

Professional and business services: Increased 37,000

Private educational services: Increased 29,000

Manufacturing: Increased 28,000

Health care: Increased 27,000

Mining: Increased 8,000

On the other hand, some industries saw a loss in jobs during February, such as retail trade, which lost 26,000 jobs, general merchandise stores with a loss of 19,000 jobs, sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores with a loss of 9,000 jobs and electronics and appliances stores with a loss of 8,000 jobs.

Wages increased by 6 cents in February to average hourly earnings of $26.09. This is an increase of 71 cents from last year.

The Fed already indicated a March rate hike would likely be appropriate, and this report didn't contain any economic surprises that would change their minds. In fact, it shows the economy is on a steady course and perhaps even increases the already-strong chance of a rate hike.

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