Friday, March 6, 2015

U.S. Adds 295,000 Jobs In February; Unemployment Rate Falls To 5.5 Percent

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers extended a healthy streak of hiring in February by adding 295,000 jobs, the 12th straight monthly gain above 200,000.

The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent from 5.7 percent. But the decline in the rate occurred mainly because some people out of work stopped looking for jobs and were no longer counted as unemployed.

The strong job gains weren't enough to boost wages by much. The average hourly wage rose just 3 cents in February to $24.78 an hour.

Still, over the past 12 months, 3.3 million more Americans have gotten jobs. More jobs and lower gas prices have led many consumers to step up spending. That's boosting the economy, offsetting sluggish economies overseas and giving employers the confidence to hire.

The strengthening job market could give the Federal Reserve room to move toward raising interest rates from record lows. Most analysts expect the Fed to pave the way for higher rates by adjusting the statement it issues after its March policy meeting, to be followed by the first hike in June or September.

Read more at:http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/6811564

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