Unemployment Rate Hits 7-Year Low
American employers added 295K jobs last month, a pace that easily beat expectations and sent the unemployment rate down to 5.5%, its lowest level since mid-2008. The service sector played a big part in the gains, with 66K of the new jobs coming from the leisure and hospitality industries. The rate was down from 5.7% in January. The Labor Department report today came as welcome good news after yesterday's announcement of a disappointing rise in new jobless claims. Economists had predicted job gains of 235K and the unemployment rate ticking down to 5.6%.
On a downbeat side note, wages grew a meager 0.1%. This was especially disappointing given January's 0.5% wage gains, which offered hope of a turnaround in perhaps the most stubbornly negative post-crash economic indicator.