(Bloomberg) — The U.S. job-creation machine kept exceeding expectations in February. Wages continued to disappoint.
Employers added 295,000 workers to payrolls last month, more than forecast, and the unemployment rate dropped to 5.5 percent, the lowest in almost seven years, figures from the Labor Department showed Friday in Washington. Hourly earnings rose less than forecast.
A lingering appetite to boost headcounts comes as increased purchasing power from cheaper fuel helps drive consumer spending. The jobless rate has now reached the Federal Reserve’s range for what it considers full employment, keeping policy makers on course to raise interest rates as soon as June.
“Labor-market conditions are quite good right now, even though the wage situation is not so hot,” said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Inc. in Lexington, Massachusetts. “Our expectation is that as the year progresses, we’ll start to see those wage numbers look a little stronger.”