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Last updateMon, 08 Mar 2021 4pm

U.S. Added 379,000 Jobs in February

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 379,000 in February, and the unemployment rate edged down to 6.2%, the U.S. Department of Labor reported. The labor market continued to reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In February, most of the job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, with smaller gains in temporary help services, health care and social assistance, retail trade and manufacturing. Employment declined in state and local government education, construction and mining. 


Beige Book: Vaccine Boosts Business Optimism

Economic activity expanded modestly from January to mid-February for most Federal Reserve Districts. Most businesses remain optimistic regarding the next 6-12 months as COVID-19 vaccines become more widely distributed.

All ten manufacturing firms contacted by the Federal Reserve this cycle reported higher sales, and three said their company had seen its best performance ever in recent quarters. 

Walmart to Invest $350 Billion in U.S. Manufacturing

Walmart plans to spend $350 billion over the next decade on items made, grown or assembled in the U.S. They estimate that this spending will support more than 750,000 new American jobs. Walmart has identified six priority categories to focus on: plastics; textiles; small electrical appliances; food processing; pharmaceutical and medical supplies; and goods not for resale. 

U.S. Manufacturing Activity at Three-Year High in February

Manufacturing grew in February as the Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing PMI registered 60.8%, 2.1% higher than the January reading of 58.7%. This equals the highest reading since February 2018 (60.8%); prior to that, the PMI registered 61.4% in May 2004.

Four of the five subindexes that directly factor into the PMI were in growth territory and at a higher level compared to January. Of the six biggest manufacturing industries, five — chemical products; fabricated metal products; transportation equipment; computer & electronic products; and food, beverage & tobacco products — expanded. 

Durable Goods Orders Up Big in January

New orders for manufactured durable goods in January increased $8.5 billion or 3.4% to $256.6 billion, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced. This increase, up nine consecutive months, followed a 1.2% December increase. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 1.4%. Excluding defense, new orders increased 2.3%. Transportation, up eight of the last nine months, led the increase, $6.1 billion or 7.8% to $85.1 billion. 

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