US economy adds 275,000 jobs, unemployment rate hits 3.9%

The US economy created more new jobs than expected in February, while an increase in the unemployment rate for the first time in four months and downard revisions to job growth in prior months suggested signs of some softening in the US labor market.

The US economy added 275,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in February, significantly more additions than the 200,000 expected by economists. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate increased to 3.9% from 3.7% in January.

A revised 229,000 jobs were added in January, according to the report, down from the 353,000 initially reported.

The jobs report adds to the data the Federal Reserve will consider before making its next interest rate decision later this month.

Wages, a closely watched indicator of inflation and a gauge of how much leverage workers have in the labor market, increased 0.1% on a monthly basis and 4.3% over last year; economists had expected wages to rise 0.2% over last month and 4.3% over last year.

Some key metrics did decline, though. The labor force participation rate stayed flat at 62.5%, while the average weekly hours worked increased from 34.1 to 34.3.

The largest jobs increases in Friday’s report were seen in healthcare which added 67,000 jobs in February. Meanwhile, government employment added 52,000 jobs.

On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell described the labor market as “relatively tight” but noted that “supply and demand conditions have continued to come into better balance” during his semiannual testimony in front of lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Markets entered Friday’s report betting that the first Fed interest rate cut will come in June, per the CME FedWatch Tool. For the year, investors are pricing in a range of three to four rate cuts, per Bloomberg data.

Construction workers work in Mount Prospect, Ill., Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Josh Schafer is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on X @_joshschafer.

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