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Expand chart
Source: Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The pace of jobs growth slowed significantly in February with the economy adding 20,000 jobs, less than the 180,000 expected, the Labor Department said on Friday. The unemployment rate ticked down to 3.8% and wages rose 3.4% from the prior year — the best pace in a decade.

Between the lines: After an average gain of 186,000 jobs per month in the last 3 months, a pullback from that breakneck pace has been widely expected. Economists, though, are questioning whether or not February's dismal job growth was a blip, or the beginning of trouble for the booming labor market.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

The details:

  • The number of people in the labor force remained steady, with the labor force participation rate holding at 63%.
  • Construction employment fell off a cliff, losing 31,000 jobs in February — the biggest drop in 6 years.
  • December job gains were revised up from 222,000 to 227,000, while January was revised up to 311,000 from 304,000 .

What to watch: What this all means for the Fed that's all but written off more interest rate increases this year. As the New York Times' Neil Irwin points out: "This is an awfully uncomfortable report for the Fed. Strong wage growth + falling unemployment rate + slowing job growth is tough mix."

Go deeper

43 mins ago - Health

Study: Common antidepressant guards against COVID hospitalization

A COVID-19 intensive Care Unit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on May 27, 2021. Photo: Fabio Teixeira/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The readily available antidepressant fluvoxamine significantly reduced COVID-related hospitalizations, according to a large study published Wednesday.

Why it matters: The clinical trial suggests that a cheap, readily available drug could dramatically reduce serious illness and death when prescribed early.

By the numbers: Catholics, Biden and abortion

Expand chart
Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

President Biden — the second Catholic U.S. president — will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday, as some church leaders debate whether to deny Holy Communion to politicians who support abortion rights.

By the numbers: Overall, two in three U.S. Catholics believe Biden should be allowed to take Communion despite his stance on abortion, according to polling by Pew Research Center.

Texas House probes school library books dealing with race and sexuality

Photo: Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

Texas state Rep. Matt Krause, chair of the Texas House Committee on General Investigating, announced Wednesday that he's initiating a probe into schools' library books, according to a letter sent to the state's education agency and other superintendents.

Why it matters: The probe focuses on books that discuss race, sexuality or "make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex," Krause wrote in the letter.