(CN) – Employers added 313,000 jobs in February, the most since July 2016, keeping the unemployment rate unchanged at 4.1, the Labor Department said Friday.
According to the government, the surge of job gains likely reflects burgeoning confidence among businesses that the Trump administration’s tax cuts will accelerate growth.
Consumers are also optimistic, likely because after-tax income grew at the fastest pace in a year last month, aided by the tax cuts.
Not all the news in Friday’s report was positive. The Labor Department found that wages fell in February from the previous month to to 2.6 percent year-over-year growth.
Strong hourly wage growth had spooked markets in February because it raised the specter of inflation. But January’s figure was revised one-tenth of a point lower to 2.8 percent.
The Labor Department’s report far surpassed a separate analysis released Thursday by payroll processor ADP. The popular ADP analysis had estimated that only 235,000 new nonfarm jobs were added in February — a decrease from January’s revised number of 244,000 added jobs.
Economists predicted Friday that the strong report for the Labor Departmnt will clear the way for the Federal Reserve to raise its benchmark interest rate when it meets this month under its new chairman, Jerome Powell.