US, WASHINGTON (NEWS OBSERVATORY) — American employers maintained a steady pace of employment in February, giving the economy a strong boost as it faces the outbreak of the Coronavirus, which has fueled financial market fears of a recession and led to an emergency interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve (U.S. Central Bank).
The monthly employment report issued by the US Department of Labor, which has close monitoring of the document, showed strong growth in monthly wages and a decrease in the unemployment rate again, near the lowest level in 50 years at 3.5 percent. The employers also raised the hourly wages of employees last month.
While the optimistic report probably did not fully demonstrate the impact of the Coronavirus, which began spreading in the United States in late February, so far there are no indications that the epidemic has damaged the labor market.
Layoffs remained low, and small businesses and activities in the services sector continued to employ at a strong pace.
The number of U.S. non-farm payroll jobs increased 273,000 last month, unchanged from the January figure, the largest since May 2018.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected an increase of 175,000 jobs in February. The economy needs to create about 100,000 jobs to keep pace with the growth of the working-age population.
The average number of jobs added 243 thousand jobs per month in the past three months.
The strength of the labor market has been supported by a steady wage growth. Average hourly wages rose 0.3 percent in February, after a 0.2 percent increase in January. But the annual wage increase fell to 3 percent in February from 3.1 percent in January.
The unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent last month. The unemployment rate increased a tenth of a percentage point in January to 3.6 percent as more people joined the workforce, a sign of confidence in the job market.
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Article is written and prepared by our foreign editors from different countries around the world – material edited and published by News Observatory staff in our US newsroom.