U.S. Economy Picks Up, Yet Wages Still Lagging

The U.S. Department of Labor reported that employers added 295,000 workers across the U.S. in February causing the unemployment rate to fall to 5.5 percent, the lowest it has been since mid-2008. While the news is welcome, wages rose a mere 2 percent from last year and .5 percent from January, with a drop last month to just .1 percent.

February’s job growth by industry shows the following bright spots:

  • Leisure and Hospitality added 66,000 jobs
  • Education and Health expanded by 54,000 jobs
  • Construction added 29,000 jobs
  • Manufacturing increased by just 8,000

Despite this growth in jobs, wages for private-sector workers have risen slowly over the last few years at around 2 percent annually. The slow wage growth suggests that the economy is still far from returning to its potential.