US economy added 313,000 jobs in February

US job growth exceeded expectations last month.

The US economy added 313,000 jobs in February, the fastest pace of growth since July 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Over the last three months job gains in the US have averaged 242,000.

Employment rose in construction, retail trade, professional and business services, manufacturing, financial activities, and mining.

Construction employment rose by 61,000, while retail trade employment increased by 50,000, employment in professional and business services increased by 50,000, the manufacturing sector added 31,000 jobs, financial activities added 28,000 jobs and the mining sector added 9,000 jobs.

Employment, as measured in the household survey, rose by 785,000, the biggest monthly gain since September.

The unemployment rate remained at 4.1 percent for the fifth consecutive month – a 17-year low – as 806,000 people entered the labor force.

Despite strong job gains, Robert Frick, a corporate economist with Navy Federal Credit Union, called the February report “mixed”.

Average hourly earnings rose by four cents, or 0.1 percent, to $26.75 in February, down from the 0.3 percent rise in January. The year-on-year increase in average hourly earnings dropped to 2.6 percent in February from 2.8 percent the previous month.

Frick was quoted by The Hill as saying: “Together that says that there is still slack in the labor force and Americans are still waiting for bigger raises that are typical for this point in an economic expansion,”

According to Reuters, Michael Feroli, an economist at JPMorgan in New York, said:

“In spite of the modestly softer February figure, for the first two months of the quarter, the headline average hourly earnings number is increasing at a 3.3 percent annual rate, which would make it the strongest quarter of the expansion,”