Ball State University economist Michael Hicks says the February jobs report continues a “sluggish” pattern for the national economy. He says wages and hours worked decreased “almost certainly” because of weather-related work stoppages. The U.S. unemployment rate rose to 6.7 percent in February, up from 6.6 percent the previous month.

March 7, 2014

News Release

Muncie, Ind. — Ball State economist Michael Hicks says February's jobs report offers more evidence the U.S. economy is settled into a sluggish, low growth trajectory, with no signs of a thaw.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced this morning the economy added 175,000 jobs last month while the unemployment rate rose from 6.6 percent to 6.7 percent as more people joined the labor force.

“The good news is that the civilian labor force rose by 264,000 potential workers, which means people are more positive now about getting a job,” says Hicks, director of the university’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER). “While the survey reported 175,000 new jobs, we must expect some revisions. In February, hours worked were down sharply and weekly wages also saw a large drop, almost certainly due to weather related work stoppages.”

He points out that at the occupational level, construction of residential buildings and heaving construction and specialty trade contractors in nonresidential work all saw sharp increases.

“This sector had unusually large spikes in employment, suggesting that the weather related concerns voiced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics — and anyone living north of Miami — might be less of a drag on the economy than is currently thought to be the case.”

Source: Ball State University

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