WASHINGTON – The U.S. generated 242,000 new jobs in February, snapping back after a modest slowdown in hiring in the first month of 2016. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast the addition of 198,000 nonfarm jobs. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.9%. Employment gains for January and December, meanwhile, were revised upward by a combined 30,000, the Labor Department said Friday. The government said 172,000 new jobs were created in January instead of the previously reported 151,000. December's gain was raised to 271,000 from 262,000. Yet despite the big gain in new jobs, the average hourly wage fell 3 cents, or 0.1%, to $25.35. Hourly pay rose a mild 2.2% from February 2015 to February 2016. And the amount of time people worked each week dropped two-tenths of an hour to 34.4 hours, the lowest level in two years. The labor-force participation rate moved up to 62.9%, the highest level since May, as more than half a million people joined the labor force. (A news alert linking to this item initially reported the nonfarm-payrolls data as being for January rather than February.)
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