Treasury Secretary Mnuchin: Economy is not really at full employment yet

  • "We're not really at full employment because of the participation rate," Mnuchin told CNBC's "Squawk Alley."
  • Mnuchin made his comments after the Bureau of Labor Statistics said the U.S. economy added 313,000 jobs in February, easily topping expectations.
  • The BLS also said the labor force participation rate rose to 63 percent last month, its highest level since September 2017, but still remains below historical levels.
  • "I'm pleased it ticked up a little bit. That's a number I'm really focused on," Mnuchin said.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reacts during a press conference after attending the Franchise Expo West in Los Angeles, California, November 2, 2017.
Mike Blake | Reuters
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reacts during a press conference after attending the Franchise Expo West in Los Angeles, California, November 2, 2017.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday the U.S. economy has not reached full employment because of the country's labor force participation rate.

"Everyone has said: 'Aren't you concerned about inflation given we're at full employment and given the tax cuts and the growth in the economy?' My comment is we're not really at full employment because of the participation rate," Mnuchin told CNBC's "Squawk Alley."

Mnuchin made his comments after the Bureau of Labor Statistics said the U.S. economy added 313,000 jobs in February, easily topping expectations. The report sent stocks flying higher, with the Nasdaq composite reaching an all-time high and erasing the losses from last month's correction.

The BLS also said the labor force participation rate rose to 63 percent last month, its highest level since September 2017, but still remains below historical levels.

"I'm pleased it ticked up a little bit. That's a number I'm really focused on," Mnuchin said. "I was at JetBlue this morning meeting with the workers who had the benefits of the tax cuts, and one of the things they talked about was job training and how to bring people into that industry."

"One of the issues with the participation rate is we've got to create more jobs, but we also have to make sure we have the proper training for people to have the jobs," Mnuchin added.