Business news from the Fredericksburg region.
US hiring is up despite weather
WASHINGTON—Brutal winter weather snarled traffic, canceled flights and cut power to homes and factories in February. Yet it didn’t faze U.S. employers, who added 175,000 jobs, far more than the two previous months.
Modest but steady job growth has become a hallmark of a nearly 5-year-old economic rebound that remains sluggish yet strikingly resilient. The economy has been slowed by political gridlock, harsh weather and global crises. Those disruptions have hampered growth but haven’t derailed it.
Though the unemployment rate rose to 6.7 percent from a five-year low of 6.6 percent, it did so for an encouraging reason: More people grew optimistic about their job prospects and began seeking work. The unemployment rate rose because but some didn’t immediately find jobs.
Friday’s report from the Labor Department suggested that a long-hoped-for acceleration in growth and hiring still hasn’t occurred. But that might not be all bad: Households have pared debt and have avoided the excessive spending and borrowing that have undercut explosive economies in the past. And moderate but consistent hiring still means more people have money to spend.
Total U.S. credit card debt is still 14 percent lower than before the Great Recession began in December 2007, according to the Federal Reserve.
“A modest expansion may very well last longer than one that bursts out with big increases in spending and debt,” David Berson, an economist at Nationwide Financial, said.
Some economists also suggested that having endured harsh weather, the economy may be poised to pick up in coming months.
“If not for poor weather conditions, job growth would have been stronger,” said Michelle Meyer, an economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “This suggests we should see solid gains in coming months.”