- Al Bello/Getty
The US economy added 235,000 nonfarm payrolls in February, many more than expected, and the unemployment rate dipped to 4.7%, a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed on Friday.
Economists had forecast 200,000 nonfarm payrolls in February, according to a Bloomberg survey. They raised their forecasts Thursday after a report by the payrolls-processing giant ADP showed the private sector added 298,000 jobs in February, many more than expected.
The manufacturing sector saw solid gains last month, according to the BLS and ADP. Economists cautioned, however, that this may have been because of an unusually warm month. This February was the second-warmest on record, most likely increasing demand for jobs in industries that involve outdoor work. The construction sector added 58,000 jobs, the most in 10 years.
The jobs report was key for the Federal Reserve and for President Donald Trump.
For Trump, it was the first major economic report that covered a full period with him as president; the survey week of January’s report, released last month, fell under President Barack Obama.
Though Trump called the jobs report fake during his campaign and said the unemployment rate was a hoax, he is likely to take the credit for this report.
“Sentiment or optimism on the part of business and consumers has been lifted by the Trump victory, but that’s not quite the same as increased sales,” Mark Hamrick, a senior market analyst at Bankrate.com, said in a note. “Businesses need to see a rise in demand before deciding to boost their employment.”
At the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting next Tuesday and Wednesday, the Fed is likely to raise interest rates for the third time since the recovery. This jobs report and other employment data shown in separate surveys during February give the Fed its final green light.
The unemployment rate is at a level Fed officials consider to be full employment, which means virtually everyone who wants a job can get one, at least theoretically.
After an unexpected drop in January, wage growth was revised higher in Friday’s report. Average hourly earnings rose by 2.8% year-on-year in January and February.
The labor-force participation rate increased to 63%.