WASHINGTON—U.S. employers added jobs at a solid pace in February and the unemployment rate ticked down, signs of a strengthening labor market that should keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates this year.
U.S. nonfarm payrolls grew by a seasonally adjusted 295,000 jobs in February, the Labor Department said Friday. The economy has now added more than 200,000 jobs for 12 straight months, the longest such streak since 1995.
Job creation in prior months was slightly weaker than previously estimated, with revisions showing a net decline of 18,000 jobs for December and January.
The unemployment rate, calculated from a separate survey of households, fell to 5.5% in February, from January’s 5.7%. The drop shows employers are hiring steadily, though some of the decline can be attributed to more Americans dropping out of the labor force last month.
Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected payrolls to increase by 240,000 in February and the jobless rate to fall to 5.6%.
The U.S. dollar and Treasury yields initially soared after the report, while stock opened lower.
The economy has now added more than 200,000 jobs for 12 straight months. That steady hiring, however, has largely failed to translate into faster wage growth.