The U.S. economy added 313,000 jobs in February, smashing expectations, according to Friday’s employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Washington Post reported that the unemployment rate held steady for the fifth straight month at 4.1%, an 18-year low. Average hourly pay, meanwhile, grew by 2.6% from this time last year, a slight drop from January’s year-over-year improvement of 2.9%.
In the coming months, however, “we should expect longer-term wage growth with the unemployment rate as low as it is,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at BankRate.com, a financial services firm in New York. “We also keep adding a healthy number of jobs on a monthly basis, and that doesn’t look like it will end any time soon.”
These numbers build on a strong two months for the country, which saw 200,000 new jobs in January, per government figures. Eighteen states lifted their minimum wages at the start of the year, including Ohio, Florida, Washington and Maine.
“The 313,000 job gain is more than triple that necessary to meet the demand of new entrants into the work force, which if it sustained will continue to put downward pressure on the unemployment rate,” said Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM US LLP, an international consulting firm.
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