U.S. employers added 242,000 jobs in February, outpacing projections, but average wages unexpectedly dropped from January, marking the first monthly decline in more than a year.
The national unemployment rate held steady at 4.9 percent as more people entered the labor market and found work, according to a Labor Department report released Friday. The 4.9 percent rate matches an eight-year low.
February’s increase of 242,000 jobs compares favorably with the 172,000 added in January, and it trumps the median projection of a Bloomberg survey of 92 economists that called for an increase of 195,000 jobs.
The job growth could increase the likelihood of the Federal Reserve Bank continuing to gradually raise interest rates this year, but the slip in wages raises some concern about improvements in the labor market being felt by all Americans.