Mar 8, 2024 - Economy

U.S. economy adds 275,000 jobs in February as unemployment rate jumps

Construction workers build a structure

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The economy added 275,000 jobs in February, while the unemployment rate rose to 3.9% from 3.7%, the government said Friday.

Why it matters: Job creation remained robust and more Americans were looking for work last month, as the labor market has stayed surprisingly strong.

  • Economists expected the economy to add roughly 200,000 jobs last month.
  • In Friday's report, the government also said job gains for the previous two months were slightly cooler. In January, there were 229,000 jobs added — 124,000 fewer than initially estimated. December job gains were revised down to 290,000 from 333,000.

Zoom in: The uptick in the jobless rate pushes it to the highest level in more than two years, while still very low by historical standards.

  • The labor force participation rate, or the share of the population with or looking for a job, held at 62.5%.

The big picture: Federal Reserve officials are watching key indicators, including the jobs report, for signs of possible inflation pressures.

  • Signs of inflationary pressure were subdued last month: Average hourly earnings, a measure of wage growth, rose 0.1% in February — or 4.3% over the year.
  • Fed chair Jerome Powell underscored this week that interest rate cuts are likely not imminent as the central bank waits for more evidence that inflation is falling back to its 2% target.

The bottom line: The labor market stayed healthy last month—with subdued wage gains—underscoring the overall health of the U.S. economy.

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