US economy added 273,000 jobs in February

FILE – In this Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017, photo, a recruiter in the shale gas industry, left, speaks with an attendee of a job fair in Cheswick, Pa. Employers in the United States are thought to have kept up their brisk pace of hiring in June 2018, reflecting the durability of the second-longest U.S. economic expansion on record even in the face of a trade war with China. Economists have estimated that 195,000 jobs were added last month and that the unemployment rate remained at an 18-year low of 3.8 percent, according to data provider FactSet. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

The US economy added 273,000 jobs in February, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday.

This was far more than economists had predicted. Leading the gains were new jobs in health care and social assistance, food services and government, where 7,000 people were hired for the April Census.

The unemployment rate fell back to the historic low of 3.5%.

Paychecks grew by 3% on average over the year leading up to February and grew 0.3% in the month.

There was more even good news about previous months: An already strong January report was bumped higher to 273,000 new jobs as well.

The jobs survey was taken in the middle of February before coronavirus fears overtook Corporate America.

The outbreak is weighing on business and investor sentiment, as well as the economic outlook. The strong report shows that the US labor market was in a good place before the outbreak reached American shores. Many expect that the March report will reflect the damage the virus has inflicted on business activity.

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