Employment in the U.S. increased by much more than anticipated in the month of February, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Friday, with the job growth pushing the unemployment rate down to a four-year low.
The Labor Department said non-farm payroll employment rose by 236,000 jobs in February compared to economist estimates for an increase of about 171,000 jobs.
While the report also showed that the job growth in January was downwardly revised to 119,000 from 157,000, the downward revision was partly offset by an upward revision in December job growth to 219,000 from 196,000.
The continued job growth pushed the unemployment rate down to 7.7 percent in February from 7.9 percent in January. Economists had expected the unemployment rate to edge down to 7.8 percent.
With the bigger than expected decrease, the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since hitting 7.3 percent in December of 2008.
The stronger than expected job growth in the month of February came as the addition of 246,000 private sector jobs more than offset the loss of 10,000 government jobs.
Notable job growth was seen in the construction sector, which added 48,000 jobs in February, reflecting the biggest increase in nearly six years.
The professional and business services industry also saw an increase of 73,000 jobs, while the health care and social assistance industry added 39,100 jobs.
Sal Guatieri, Senior Economist at BMO Capital Markets, said, "Looking past the fiscal drag and political uncertainty, American companies are hiring again in greater numbers."
"Employment should strengthen further as the fiscal fog clears and companies see sustained strength in consumer spending and housing activity," he added.
The report also showed that the average workweek for all employees on private non-farm payrolls edged up by 0.1 hours to 34.5 hours.
Additionally, averagely hourly employee earnings rose by $0.04 to $23.82. Average hourly earnings have risen by 2.1 percent compared to the same month a year ago.
by RTT Staff Writer
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