Mar 6, 2020 - Economy & Business

U.S. economy surprises with 273,000 jobs added in February

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy added 273,000 jobs in February — way more than the 175,000 economists expected — while the unemployment rate dipped to 3.5%, the government said Friday.

Why it matters: The labor market is adding jobs at a breakneck pace, but the numbers don’t take into account the worsening coronavirus outbreak that threatens the record-long stretch of job gains.

By the numbers: Employment was stronger than initially estimated in prior months, too. December and January payrolls were revised higher by a combined 85,000 jobs.

  • Wages grew 3% from the same month last year, a slightly slower pace than in January.

The bottom line: The jobs report surveyed employers and workers before U.S. coronavirus fears escalated. Economists expect employment gains, particularly those seen in the services sector in February, to slow as companies see less demand because of the outbreak.

  • The numbers did little to soothe on-edge investors about the fate of the economy. The stock market pointed to big losses in pre-market morning trading, while the government bond yields plumbed new lows.
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