The U.S. economy added 235,000 jobs in February, the Labor Department reported today. The department’s statisticians also revised January’s job gains upwards to 238,000. Wages grew by a year over year 2.8% The unemployment rate fell to 4.7%. (The U-6, or underemployment rate, fell to 9.2%. That matches the lowest level since 2008. This rate includes discouraged workers who have stopped looking for work and workers with part-time jobs who would like full-time work.)
Even the stubbornly low workforce participation rate, which has been hovering close to the lowest levels in three decades for months, rose to 63% from 62.9%. That’s the highest level since March 2015.
The report is solidly strong even if you want to pick nits. Last month was the second-warmest February on record and that led to a big gain–58,000–in construction jobs as warm temperatures enabled construction companies to pile on more work during the month. But the strength in the February report included a big gain in manufacturing as well–28,000 jobs, the most since August 2013–which had nothing to do with the weather.
Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected the economy to add 200,000 jobs in February.
The Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee meets on Wednesday, March 15. The CME Fed Watch tool calculates that the odds of an interest rate increase that day are now 93%, up from 88% yesterday.