Positive signs as US job creation figures beat expectations

Sat, Mar 9, 2013, 00:00

There are signs of renewed vigour in the US economy as a stronger than expected 236,000 jobs were created in February.

The jobs market brushed off tax hikes at the start of the year, with the unemployment rate falling from 7.9 to 7.7 per cent, according to data released yesterday.

But rising taxes and across-the-board spending cuts – known as sequestration – could limit the strength of the recovery.

“The data certainly fit with the story of an economy that has weathered the early stages of the fiscal drag remarkably well,” said Alan Ruskin of Deutsche Bank in New York.

Growth in non-farm payrolls was well ahead of the 160,000 new jobs forecast by analysts and follows a new low in unemployment insurance claims this week.

Government, however, shed another 10,000 jobs as the squeeze on spending bites.

One of the strongest signs in the jobs report was a 0.5 per cent increase in hours worked. Employers often ask existing staff to work more hours just before they start hiring. – (Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2013)