US Jobless Rate Hits Two-Year High Even as Hiring Stays Strong

The US jobless rate climbed to a two-year high in February even as hiring remained healthy, pointing to a cooler yet resilient labor market.

Nonfarm payrolls advanced 275,000 last month following a combined 167,000 downward revision to the prior two months, a Bureau of Labor Statistics report showed Friday. The unemployment rate rose to 3.9%.

Metric Actual Estimate
Change in payrolls (MoM) +275,000 +200,000
Unemployment rate 3.9% 3.7%
Average hourly earnings (MoM) +0.1% +0.2%

The payrolls and wage numbers are derived from a survey of businesses and other employers, while the unemployment figures come from a separate, smaller poll of households.

Job growth in February was concentrated in service-providing sectors, including health care, leisure and hospitality, and the government, the government survey of establishments showed.

Stock futures rose while Treasury yields fell and the dollar weakened after the figures. Traders boosted bets on a June interest-rate cut, seeing that now as a certainty.