Monday Moneybeat: Back on track

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

NICK EICHER, HOST: Maybe you remember the February jobs report. It was bad. Jobs growth was a mere 33,000, and that took economists by surprise.

But you may remember also those same surprised economists saying it has to be a blip and not a trend.

Well, the March jobs report is here, the labor economists got it right, and we do appear back on track.

American employers added almost 200,000 jobs in the month of March.

Gus Faucher, chief economist, PNC Financial.

FAUCHER: This is a good, solid report. And I would expect that we’ll see, you know, 150,000 to 175,000 jobs per month added through the rest of 2019.

But compare that range—150-to-175—to last year’s 223,000 average new jobs each month, and that’s evidence of a slower, if steady, economy.

The unemployment rate stands at 3.8 percent. It remains the lowest in about half a century. One small negative to the report: Wage growth cooled a bit, two-tenths of a percent to be precise. Average hourly pay increased 3.2 percent year-on-year, but that’s down from February’s year-on-year gain of 3.4 percent, the best in a decade.

Slow and steady, though, and no inflation threat may keep the Federal Reserve on its current path of holding interest rates right where they are.

REICHARD: But President Trump thinks the Fed should not stand pat. Here he is on Friday, making his way to Marine One and stopping to talk to reporters.

TRUMP: Well, I personally think the Fed should drop rates. I think they really slowed us down. There’s no inflation and I think they should drop rates. You would see a rocketship.

Trump advisers insist the president does respect Fed independence.

But he also last week announced his intention to reshape the central bank.

He indicated he plans to name another loyalist to the Fed board of governors. In addition to former campaign adviser Stephen Moore, Trump said he intends to nominate Herman Cain to the Fed.

Cain’s a former corporate CEO who sought the Republican nomination for president in 2012.

There are two open seats on the seven-seat Fed board, and both men will need Senate approval to take them.

EICHER: An excellent week on Wall Street, with all the major stock indexes gaining solid ground.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 picked up a little more than 2 percent. Another week like this and it’ll exceed the all-time high it hit last September.

The Dow Jones Industrials added just shy of 2 percent. The Nasdaq rose almost 3 percent, as did the index of smaller-company stocks, the Russell 2000.

And that is today’s Monday Moneybeat.

(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File) In this March 7, 2019, file photo Robert Arciero, center, works with fellow traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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