The US Labor Department has reported a stronger-than-expected pickup in non-farm payrolls. Hundreds of thousands of new jobs were added in February, making another interest rate hike by the central bank more likely.
US employers added 242,000 workers to non-farm payrolls in February as retailers, restaurants and health care providers contributed to another solid month for the country's resilient domestic job market.
The pickup was much stronger than the 190,000 additions expected by economists polled by Reuters.
The job gains showed the US economy had largely weathered a broader global slowdown without taking a major hit.
The upbeat Labor Department report added to a recent string of positive data that pointed to a modest recovery in the US economy and strengthened the Federal Reserve's case to gradually raise interest rates this year.
Relying on domestic consumption
Fears of a recession elsewhere and slowing growth in China had sparked a global stock market rout at the start of the year, causing financial market conditions to tighten.
But the strong US job market, together with signs that inflation is creeping up, could prompt the US central bank to lift borrowing costs once more during its March 15-16 meeting. The Fed had raised its key overnight interest rate in December for the first time in a decade.
US employers said they expected solid consumer demand in the months ahead despite a moderate drop in average hourly earnings.
hg/cjc (dpa, Reuters, AFP)