Mar 10, 2023 - Economy

U.S. economy adds 311,000 jobs in February

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy added 311,000 jobs in February, the Labor Department said on Friday, continuing a hot hiring streak that has underpinned the country's tight labor market.

Why it matters: Employers continued to add workers to payrolls at a very quick pace — despite months of rising interest rates meant to cool that demand.

By the numbers: The unemployment rate bumped up to 3.6% from 3.4%, as layoffs tick up and more workers re-enter the workforce. The jobless rate, however, is still holding near the lowest level in more than 50 years.

  • The payrolls report showed that the economy added 504,000 jobs in January, 13,000 fewer than the originally reported figure. Meanwhile, gains were revised down in December from 260,000 to 239,000.

Where it stands: A run of government data from the beginning of the year pointed to evidence that the economy had picked up steam, with a strong bout of hiring and re-emerging inflation pressures.

  • That's despite aggressive moves from the Federal Reserve to slow the economy down, in an effort to bring down inflation.
  • Economists were looking to the February payrolls release as one report that could confirm whether that data was an anomaly.
  • The stakes are high: Fed chair Jerome Powell said this week the central bank could return to a larger size interest rate increase at its policy meeting later this month if other data pointed to re-heating economic activity.

In February, average hourly earnings — a measure of wage growth — rose 0.2%. Over the year through February, hourly earnings are up 4.6%.

  • Meanwhile, the share of people employed or searching for jobs (known as the labor force participation rate) bumped up to 62.5 from 62.4% in January.
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