GDP

Weather-adjusted, February's job report was a hiring bonanza

March 7, 2014: 12:38 PM ET

Weather was a big factor last month, but it's not slowing the economy as much as some people think.

chart-weather-jobsFORTUNE -- If it weren't for the cold and snow, February's jobs report would have registered as the strongest monthly gain in nearly four years. Adjusted for the weather, the economy added 468,000 jobs in February. (For how I calculated that, read this.) That would rank as the second-best monthly jobs gain since the end of the recession.

There has probably been too much talk about how the weather has held back the economy. But since this is probably (hopefully?) the last month worth talking about the jobs report and the weather together, let's talk about it.

MORE: Jobs report: America gets a raise

The general consensus is that this year's colder and snowier weather is making the economy look a lot weaker than it is. Some people are predicting that the weather will knock as much as a full percentage point off GDP. The weather does seem to have made February's jobs report appear weaker than it actually was. The government's official number was 175,000, which was better than expected, but not by much.

But the weather also made January's jobs report seem significantly stronger than it actually was, to the tune of nearly 200,000 jobs. Take a six-month average, and weather-adjusted, the economy has added 206,000 jobs a month for the past half year. Compare that to an average of 177,000 a month according to the official numbers, just 29,000 jobs less.

That means the weather is slowing the economy, but not by that much. What's really slowing the economy? The weak economy.

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