U.S. Added 275K Jobs in February; Unemployment Rate Unexpectedly Rose to 3.9%

BY Coindesk | ECONOMIC | 03/08/24 08:33 AM EST By Stephen Alpher

The U.S. economy continues to show little sign of slowing down, with the government Friday morning reporting 275,000 jobs as having been added in February versus expectations for 200,000. January's originally reported blowout job growth of 353,000 was revised lower to a still respectable 229,000.

Even with the previous months' downward revisions (December was revised lower as well), the three-month average job gain was a robust 244,000 and the six-month average was 228,000, noted economist Joe Brusuelas.

The unemployment rate for February did miss expectations, though, rising to 3.9% versus an anticipated 3.7% and January's 3.7%.

Bitcoin {{BTC}} rose a bit to $67,650 in the immediate aftermath of the report. Traditional markets for now are showing little reaction to the new numbers, with U.S. equity futures, bond yields and the dollar modestly lower.

Coming into 2024, markets had been anticipating slowdowns in the economy and inflation to result in a fast pace of rate cuts by the U.S. Federal Reserve. To this point, though, the economy remains resilient and inflation stubbornly above the Fed's 2% target. As a result, expectations for the first Fed easing have moved from March to June, or even later and participants have now priced only about 75 basis points in rate cuts this year versus roughly 150 just several weeks ago.

Disappointment about easier Fed policy, however, hasn't translated into any difficulty in asset markets, where the major U.S. stock averages and the price of gold are all at or near all-time highs. As for bitcoin, it too has hit a new record this year, though any concerns about the economy or path of interest rates have taken a big back seat to the overwhelming demand from the spot ETFs.

Checking other report details, average hourly earnings in February rose by 0.1%, shy of expectations for 0.3% and a sizable slowdown from January's 0.5%. On a year-over-year basis, average hourly earnings rose 4.3% versus 4.4% expected and 4.4% in January.

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