What's going on?
Data released on Friday showed the US added loads more jobs than expected in February – and coronavirus-obsessed investors couldn’t have cared less.
What does this mean?
The world’s biggest economy hired 273,000 people last month – nearly 100,000 more than expected. And there was an influx of other good stats too: wages and hours rose, January’s data was revised higher, and the unemployment rate dropped to a 50-year low (tweet this). Even the leisure and hospitality sector – which employs a tenth of the US workforce and is likely to take one of the biggest hits from COVID-19 – saw an uptick in jobs.
In short, this data backs up what the Federal Reserve (the Fed) said in its statement on Tuesday: America’s economic fundamentals are solid. Then again, the Fed did deliver that statement while announcing its first emergency interest rate cut since 2008, which might undermine that message of confidence going forward…
Why should I care?
For markets: It’s a Finimize first!
For once, maybe you shouldn’t care. In normal times, the jobs report is the most-watched data of the month. But as you may have noticed, these aren’t normal times. Investors dismissed the report as “old news” that gave no new insights into markets’ current obsession: the economic impact of the spreading virus. Mark your calendars for April 3rd instead, when this month’s jobs data – coronavirus effects and all – will be released.
For you personally: “Working” from home.
Lots of companies – from Amazon to Microsoft – are telling employees to stay home to help halt the virus. But remote working is still a relatively new concept, and now – in one of the biggest economic experiments ever – we’ll see what all those WFH days do to the country’s productivity. And let’s not forget that even if nine-to-fivers can do their jobs just as effectively from the kitchen table, that’s not exactly the case for waiters or airline pilots…