The great American jobs creation machine is firing on all cylinders, with February’s jobs figures showing far more strength than expected and both January and December being raised higher than previously reported.
The U.S. economy added 273,000 jobs in February and the unemployment rate ticked down to 3.5 percent, the government said Friday.
Economists had forecast 175,000 nonfarm payroll growth and the unemployment rate to tick down slightly to 3.5 percent from 3.6 percent the prior month.
Average hourly earnings were up by 3 percent compared with a year ago. The average workweek climbed a bit to 34.4 hours.
December’s estimate of payroll growth was revised upward by 37,000 to 184,000. January’s number was revised up by 48,000 to 273,000. That adds a total of 85,000 more jobs than had previously been reported putting the three-month moving average at 243,000 jobs
The labor market has been a bright spot for the American economy in recent months, with unemployment at or near 50-yar lows and the economy continuing to add hundreds of thousands of jobs month after month. The strength of the labor market has boosted consumer sentiment and consumer spending, keeping the pace of economic growth stronger than in many of the other major economies around the world.
The coronavirus is widely expected to slow economic growth this year, although the impact may be short-lived if the outbreak is contained or fizzles out after a few months. The Labor Department said there was no sign that the outbreak had hurt employment in February. The strength of the labor market, however, may bolster the economy’s ability to withstand the pressure.