The U.S. economy enjoyed the biggest hiring spree since mid-2016 in February as workers streamed in from the sidelines of the labor force, but inflation pressures remained muted amid signs the pay gains that spooked financial markets last month haven’t taken hold.
Payrolls rose 313,000 in February, compared with the 205,000 median estimate in a survey of economists, and the two prior months were revised higher by 54,000, Labor Department figures showed Friday. The jobless rate held at 4.1 percent, the fifth straight month at that level. Average hourly earnings increased 2.6 percent from a year earlier following a downwardly revised 2.8 percent gain.
U.S. stock futures and bond yields rose, as the report signaled the labor market remains strong and will keep driving economic growth. The wage figures show a cooling from a pace that spurred financial turbulence last month on concern that the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates faster. While the unemployment rate remains well below Fed estimates of levels sustainable in the long run, the rise in participation suggests the presence of slack that would keep policy makers to a gradual pace of hikes.
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