US companies add 678,000 jobs in February

US companies add 678,000 jobs in February

WASHINGTON  — U.S. businesses added 678,000 jobs in February, another strong gain that underscores the economy’s good health as the omicron wave subsides and more Americans spend at restaurants, stores and hotels despite rising inflation.

The report on Friday from the Department of Labor also showed that the unemployment rate fell from 4% to 3.8%, extending a sharp decline with the economic recovery from the recession of the pandemic.

The numbers follow recent reports that have shown the economy maintaining its strength as new coronavirus infections have plummeted since late January. Consumer spending has risen, spurred by higher wages and greater savings. People are eating at restaurants at pre-pandemic levels, hotel reservations are up, and many more Americans are flying than during the omicron peak.

Friday’s hiring figures were collected ahead of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has sent oil prices soaring and raised risks and uncertainties for economies in Europe and the rest of the world.

The report showed that the average hourly wage in the United States rose barely last month, but has risen 5.1% in the past year, an indication that companies feel forced to pay more to attract and retain workers. Many employers, in turn, have been raising prices to compensate for high labor costs, a process that fuels inflation.

Ben Oakley
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