Monday Moneybeat: A disappointing jobs report

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming next on The World and Everything in It, the Monday Moneybeat.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Fresh evidence points to the likelihood of economic slowdown. The February jobs report from the Labor Department had American employers adding a disappointing 20-thousand jobs for the month. For comparison, the January jobs number had topped 300,000.

HAMRICK: I do think that we need to exercise caution when looking at this report. I think that there are probably some seasonal or weather-sensitive issues that may have crept into it, meaning that we should not necessarily take all of it at face value.

Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst, He says the economy’s not going to expand forever, but he doesn’t think recession is imminent. What’s more likely is a jobs rebound this month. But even with the modest February report, wages showed signs of strength.

HAMRICK: We got a gain of 3.4 percent in average hourly earnings over the past year, and that’s essentially getting us to where we think we ought to be at this point of the economic expansion.

The unemployment rate dropped below 4 percent to 3.8. That, too, is a bit of a glitch in the statistics. Those federal workers, counted unemployed in January during the government shutdown, came back online in February.

REICHARD: Here’s some good news for one sector of the economy that had been lagging: the housing market. The Commerce Department reported housing starts in January spiked up 18.6 percent, the fastest pace in eight months.

The rebound after December’s plunge fueled optimism among economists that new-home sales will improve in 2019. The low 3.8 percent unemployment rate has provided a stable economy that has increased the pool of would-be buyers.

EICHER: The winning streak on Wall Street came to a halt last week, with all the major stock indexes down for the first week of March. For the Standard & Poor’s 500, it was the worst week since January, falling 2.2 percent. The Dow Jones Industrials fell by the same margin, and the Nasdaq index was off 2.5. The index of smaller-company stocks, the Russell 2000, plunged 4.3 percent.

But despite that, the start to the year for Wall Street is a sign of encouragement. Sam Stovall is chief investment strategist for CFRA Research.

STOVALL: The market was up in both January and February. Since WWII that has happened 28 times, and in all 28 times, the market was higher for the full year.

And that is today’s Monday Moneybeat.

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File) In this Nov. 20, 2018, file photo an American flag flies outside New York Stock Exchange. 

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