The U.S. added 678,000 jobs last month, more than expected, in a sign of how tight the labor market has become as Federal Reserve officials commence efforts to slow inflation running at its fastest pace in four decades.
The February jobs report from the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics was being monitored by crypto traders in case the data might affect the Federal Reserve's efforts to contain soaring inflation. A hot labor market can lead to faster wage increases, which can fuel inflation if businesses try to pass along their higher personnel costs to consumers.
- Nonfarm payrolls increased by 678,000, the Bureau of Labor of Statistics reported Friday.
- The unemployment rate edged down to 3.8%, from 4% in January. That's nearing the pre-pandemic level of 3.5% in February 2020.
- Economists surveyed by Reuters had projected, on average, a gain of 400,000 jobs during the month.
- Average hourly earnings of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls were $31.58, little changed from the prior month. The year-over-year increase worked out to 5.1%, versus expectations for 5.7%.
- Fed Chair Jerome Powell described the labor market as "extremely tight" when testifying this week before U.S. lawmakers.
- Powell signaled that the U.S. central bank will raise interest rates this month for the first time since 2018.
- The Fed's next monetary-policy meeting is scheduled for March 15-16.
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