By Evan Henerson
First the good news: the country added 235,000 jobs in February, according to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unemployment is down ever so slightly to 4.7% President Trump naturally took credit, giving himself an online “attaboy” by retweeting the Drudge Report’s headline “GREAT AGAIN.”
But analysts are quick to point out that the president should be careful about how much self back patting he does for any perceived progress, especially in light of the fact that he used to slam the state of the American economy under his predecessor when the numbers were similar.
“It's a good jobs report, but he hasn't done anything yet," economist Doug Holtz-Eakin told CNN Money in an article by Heather Long which goes on to note that “to speed job creation and boost the economy, Trump wants to slash taxes, fix Obamacare, spend more on infrastructure and revise trade deals with Mexico, Canada and other countries. But none of those plans is even close to being enacted.”
The article says that 235,000 new jobs is about on par with what Obama brought in during the previous two Februaries. And last May, when unemployment first fell to 4.7%, a campaigning Trump kept hammering away at a weak economy and suggested that the government wasn’t being truthful. Spin being everything, with Trump at the Twitter switch, 4.7% unemployment becomes something to crow about. If Trump is to reach his goal of 25 million new jobs, he will have to average adding 208,000 per month. You can follow the Prez’s progress at CNN’s Trump Jobs Tracker.
In “looking under the hood” at the jobs report, Business Insider notes that 58,000 of those 235,000 jobs were in construction. A boom in construction jobs during the winter can often lead to fewer jobs in subsequent months. Author Komal Sri-Kumar, of Sri-Kumar Global Strategies also points to the fact that the average work week of 34.4 hours, shorter even than it had been in January.
“Think about that, an improving jobs situation but with a shorter work-week?!” writes Sri-Kumar. “The shorter work-week suggests that there is still slack in the labor market even after more than seven years of economic recovery. It also signals that the fewer numbers of hours worked may act as a brake on inflation.
He also highlights the spike in the number of workers – 8 million total - who held multiple jobs.
“While some of these workers may be holding more than one job by choice, the majority are probably doing so because no one job is able to occupy them for a sufficient number of hours, or provide enough income,” the article says. “In a labor market with little slack, you would expect to find workers employed overtime, but not seeking several jobs.”
Get the latest Product Spotlights, labor blogs and more with the Labor 411 enewsletter