Steady Growth Expected in U.S. Jobs Data

February’s employment report should show steady growth in nonfarm payrolls, but hiring was likely below recent trends and bad winter weather may have crimped some activity in construction, retail and restaurants.

Economists forecast 240,000 nonfarm payrolls were added in February, down from the 257,000 in January and below a three-month trend that, with revisions, was the strongest pace of hiring since the 1990s at 336,000. The unemployment rate is expected to have slipped in February to 5.6 percent from 5.7 percent, when the report is released at 8:30 a.m. EST Friday.

The February jobs report is expected to show just a temporary slowing of what is seen as a very strong jobs trend by a number of economists. “3.2 million jobs created last year was the best since 3.187 million in 1999,” said Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank. He expects to see 250,000 nonfarm payrolls for February.


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