Job growth in the U.S. saw a significant acceleration in the month of February, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Friday, although the report also showed a slowdown in the pace of wage growth.
The Labor Department said non-farm payroll employment surged up by 313,000 jobs in February after jumping by an upwardly revised 239,000 jobs in January.
Economists had expected employment to climb by 200,000 jobs, matching the increase originally reported for the previous month.
Paul Ashworth, Chief U.S. Economist at Capital Economics, said the data “illustrates that the economy is doing much better than the recent incoming activity data have suggested.”
The stronger than expected job growth was partly due to notable increases in employment in the construction and retail sectors, which added 61,000 jobs and 50,300 jobs, respectively.
The Labor Department also pointed to job growth in the professional and business services, manufacturing, financial activities, and mining sectors.
Despite the substantial job growth, the unemployment rate held at 4.1 percent in February. The unemployment rate had been expected to dip to 4.0 percent.
The unchanged unemployment rate came as the labor force expanded by 806,000 people, offsetting an increase in the household survey measure of employment of 785,000 people.
The Labor Department also said average hourly employee earnings edged up by $0.04 or 0.1 percent to $26.75 in February after rising by $0.07 or 0.3 percent to $26.71 in January.
The annual rate of growth in average hourly employee earnings slowed to 2.6 percent in February from 2.8 percent in January.
“Nevertheless, with the Fed’s latest Beige Book noting that labor shortages are now severe in many industries, that isn’t going to prevent a more aggressive monetary tightening this year,” Ashworth said.
The Federal Reserve is scheduled to hold a two-day monetary policy meeting on March 20th and 21st, with the central bank widely expected raise interest rates.