NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The job market has improved, but only momentarily, and it won't force the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates in June. That should keep a lid on rates banks charge for consumer loans and mortgages.
By historic standards, jobs creation is not that strong.
Unemployment hit 10% in October 2009, and the recent recovery has added 11.4 million jobs, which is an increase of 8.8% of the total employed at the bottom of the recession.
Prior to the financial crisis, unemployment last pierced 10% during the Reagan presidency. Then gross domestic product proceeded to grow 4.7% annually and employment increased by 17.4% over the period comparable with the current recovery.
Importantly, wages have not picked up. Year over year, those are up 2%, and factoring in productivity growth, that is not enough to push inflation above the Fed's 2% target until oil prices recover.
Part of the wage problem is that a strong dollar, imports from China and a tougher regulatory environment have pushed the recovery away from manufacturing, banking and finance. Now the global bust in oil prices is spurring layoffs in the oil patch.
Restaurants, retailing and other service activities are adding many of the new jobs, and those pay much lower wages. Even with a surge in pay for less skilled workers at businesses such as Starbucks(SBUX) - Get Report and Wal-Mart(WMT) - Get Report, wage growth among service activities is not likely to power much of a boost in economy-wide pay.
Columbus Castings in Ohio recently added 175 workers in a region with less than 4% unemployment. Yet, the company has avoided boosting wages much by considering applicants with criminal records and the long-term unemployed.
More importantly, jobs creation tends to lag economic growth, and robust job gains in recent months have been propelled by the strong growth in the second and third quarters of 2014, when GDP advanced almost 5% each quarter.
In more recent months, GDP growth appears to have averaged about 2% and will likely accelerate moderately to 2.5% to 3% the rest of this year.
Since November, the economy has been adding jobs at a 2.8% annual clip; therefore, it is likely that either the economy will experience virtually no productivity growth or jobs creation will slow. According to forecasters at Wells Fargo(WFC) - Get Report and Action Economics, monthly jobs growth will slow to about 215,000 by this summer from the 295,000 scored in February.
The slowdown in oil notwithstanding, accelerating investment by America's larger companies is expected to drive the moderate growth the economy enjoys. For example, Bank of America(BAC) - Get Report is modernizing its information-technology functions to exploit labor-saving opportunities in cloud computing, and Dollar Tree(DLTR) - Get Report is investing heavily to improve logistics and distribution. Along with increased spending among businesses as diverse as Macy's(M) - Get Report, Harris Corp. (HRS) and Campbell Soup(CPB) - Get Report , those have to drive up productivity, and limit new hiring and inflation.
When the Federal Reserve's policymaking committee meets March 17 and 18, it may signal the possibility for a June increase for the federal-funds rate, which is the overnight rate banks pay each other to borrow cash. When June comes, however, the Fed will have many good reasons to postpone action until later in the summer or the fall.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.