Job creation in the US economy surged last month, but the annual rate of wage growth slowed.
The economy created 313,000 jobs in February, official figures show, far in excess of analysts’ expectations.
However, the unemployment rate remained at 4.1%, while the annual earnings growth rate slowed to 2.6% last month.
January’s annual wage growth rate – which had triggered fears over inflationary pressures – was also revised down from 2.9% to 2.8%.
The strong wage growth figure for January prompted sharp volatility on the stock market, as investors worried the US Federal Reserve would quicken the pace at which it increased interest rates.
Despite a lower-than-expected wage increase in February, economists said longer term trends still point to higher wages.
US stock markets opened higher in reaction to the US Labor Department’s report, which showed the biggest increase in jobs since July 2016.
The number of people working or looking for work also jumped by more than 800,000 last month. That was the biggest over-the-month rise in the labour force since 2003.
“We have an economy that is firing on all cylinders and the job market is a reflection of that,” said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Bank.
February’s gains included an increase of 61,000 construction jobs – the biggest rise since 2007. The manufacturing sector also added 31,000 jobs, while retail jobs rebounded from declines last year.