A Ball State University economist says the U.S. economy is pointing in the right direction on the heels of one of the best job growth streaks since the 1990s. Mike Hicks says the February jobs report showed growth in almost every sector. The U.S. Department of Labor says the economy added 295,000 jobs last month, dropping the jobless rate to 5.5 percent.

March 6, 2015

News Release

Muncie, Ind. — Ball State economist Michael Hicks says today's employment report from the U.S. Department of Labor is one of the best streaks of jobs growth since the late 1990s, signaling an improving economy.

The department reported that employers added 295,000 workers to their payrolls last month. The unemployment rate dropped to 5.5 percent from 5.7 percent. Economists had been expecting a payroll number of 240,000 with a jobless rate of 5.6 percent.

“The February jobs report offered the most confident evidence of a recovery in labor markets over the past five year,” says Hicks, director of Ball State's Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER). “Job gains were strong overall and in almost every economic sector.”

However, he pointed out that wage growth continues to be sluggish, increasing by 3 cents an hour. The average work week was 34.6 hours last month, the same as the previous month.

“Wage growth is the sole remaining trouble spot,” Hicks says. “It is growing more slowly than it should, while inflation is expected to rise this year. That translates to a pay cut for the average worker. So, as strong as employment might be, labor markets are still not fully recovered from the Great Recession.”

Source: Ball State University

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