Employers added more workers than projected in February, indicating theU.S. economy is starting to bounce back from a weather-induced setback. The jobless rate unexpectedly climbed from a five-year low.
The 175,000 gain in employment followed a revised 129,000 increase the prior month that was bigger than initially estimated, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of economists in a Bloomberg survey called for a 149,000 advance in February. Unemployment rose to 6.7 percent from 6.6 percent as more people entered the labor forceand couldn’t find work.
The report indicates employers remain upbeat about the economy’s prospects after winter storms and freezing temperatures across the eastern U.S. slowed consumer spending, housing and manufacturing. Lowe’s Cos. is among those boosting headcount, setting the stage for further gains as Americans return to stores.
“It’s a pretty good report, given the weather,” said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group Inc. in Pittsburgh, who correctly predicted the gain in payrolls. “You had a pretty good rise in average hourly earnings, you had some good gains in jobs in a couple of different sectors.”