MUNCIE - The U.S. Labor Department released its monthly hiring and unemployment figures for February today, reporting the weakest numbers since September 2017. Ball State University economist Michael Hicks says, although the report seems to suggest a growing economic risk worldwide, it may be an anomaly, rather than a sign of imminent recession.

According to the report, about 20,000 jobs were added last month. This number far lower than the gain of about 175,000 that economists had expected. Despite being one of the weakest reports, it was the 101st straight month of job gains.

Hicks said that America’s largest trading partners are entering recession, a phenomenon that has been worsened by trade policies.

“Today’s jobs report saw employment growth essentially stalling from a rapid 311,000 new jobs in January to 20,000 new jobs in February,” Hicks said. “This very rapid slowdown is not unprecedented, and may be connected to the government shutdown which ended in late January, or may simply be a rebound from the rapid hiring in January. “

Hicks also pointed out some other factors that may have swayed the report. The composition of new jobs across occupations did not signal growth, with a major slowdown in factory jobs and a large seasonally adjusted drop in construction employment.