You Need to Know
Workers pile into the labor market
Nonfarm payrolls for February rose by 678,000 with an additional 92,000 from upward revisions to the prior two months.
ISM surveys show solid expansion, but services slowed some
The ISM manufacturing survey rose modestly to 58.6 in February (figures above 50 indicate expansion).
Small business optimism may drop again
We project a decline in the small business optimism index to 96.5, the lowest level in a year.
Job openings likely continued to be historically high in January
We project a near-record 11 million job openings in January. For reference, the record high prior to March 2021 was 7.6 million (data back to 2000).
Upward pressures on consumer prices persisted in February
We project that the consumer price index (CPI) rose by 0.7 percent, while the core rate (excluding the more volatile food and energy components) is projected to grow by 0.5 percent. This would bring the 12-month trend rates to 7.8 percent and 6.4 percent, respectively, moving even farther from the Fed’s long-run inflation goals.
The February employment report continued a string of strong jobs data, with nonfarm payrolls up at the fastest pace since last July. Workers continue to return to the labor force which has helped to push up participation rates. Wages were flat for the month but remain up sharply from a year ago. It was a positive report in virtually all aspects. The ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, and especially the Russian attack on a nuclear power plant, more than offset the typical positive market impact that would normally follow such a strong report. But it is not likely to deter the Fed from increasing short-term rates later this month.
Podcast: Employment shows strength (14 min)
February’s employment report provides very strong numbers across all sectors. This positive news runs in sharp contrast to major geopolitical events that are pushing inflation higher and could put a strain on the overall economy. Nationwide’s Chief Economist David Berson and Senior Economist Ben Ayers take a close look at the improving labor market and their outlook for the economy and the financial markets for the months ahead.