Job growth came to a near halt in February after a blistering start to the year, with nonfarm payrolls increasing by just 20,000 even as the unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent, the Labor Department reported Friday.
It was the worst month for job creation since September 2017, when two major hurricanes hit the employment market, offset somewhat by a solid increase in wages.
The month fell short of the relatively modest expectations of 180,000 from economists surveyed by Dow Jones. The unemployment rate had been projected at 3.9 percent from January’s 4 percent.
“I think it’s a very fluky number,” Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council under President Donald Trump, told CNBC in a “Squawk on the Street” interview.
The jobless rate fell in part because of the vagaries the Labor Department uses to calculate the headline rate — there was an increase of 198,000 in those considered not in the labor force, while those classified as unemployed fell by 300,000 and the ranks of the employed decreased by 45,000, according to the household survey.