WASHINGTON • US hiring topped forecasts last month, while unemployment rose from an 18-year low and wage gains unexpectedly slowed, indicating the labour market is still absorbing spare capacity.
Payrolls rose 213,000 after an upwardly revised 244,000 advance, Labour Department figures showed yesterday. The median estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg called for a gain of 195,000 jobs. Average hourly earnings advanced 2.7 per cent from a year earlier, while the jobless rate increased to 4 per cent from 3.8 per cent, the first rise in almost a year.
A steady pace of hiring and gradually rising wages, along with lower taxes, are helping to underpin consumer spending and propelling a rebound in US growth this quarter.
While the sunny outlook led Federal Reserve officials last month to boost the number of interest-rate hikes they expect this year, an intensifying trade war threatens to sap economic momentum, and a shrinking pool of qualified workers may slow the pace of employment gains.
The rise in the jobless rate may ease any pressure on the Fed to raise interest rates at a faster pace. The rate is already below central bank estimates of levels sustainable in the long run, making it a potential source of upward pressure on wages and inflation.
Payrolls rose 213,000 after an upwardly revised 244,000 advance, Labour Department figures showed yesterday. The median estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg called for a gain of 195,000 jobs.
Revisions to prior reports added a total of 37,000 jobs to payrolls in the previous two months, according to the figures, resulting in a three-month average of 211,000. In general, monthly payroll gains of around 100,000 - or even a bit less - are sufficient to keep pushing down the unemployment rate, according to economists.
Hanging over the labour market are President Donald Trump's tariffs on goods from some of America's largest trading partners, along with retaliatory charges.
The details across industries showed continued strength in goods-producing jobs: Manufacturing added 36,000 to payrolls, the best month since December, including a 12,000 increase in the auto industry, the most since August. That is consistent with other reports showing strength in factory activity.