March 10 (UPI) -- The U.S. economy gained 235,000 new jobs in February, the first full month of President Donald Trump's administration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.
The data also indicate that wages are rising at the fastest pace since the economic recovery began eight years ago, and that nearly a half million new jobs were created in the first two months of 2017. The unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent, from 4.8 percent reported in January. The good news almost assures an interest rate increase by the Federal Reserve, which has signaled it intends to make the move next week.
It is unclear if the economy can maintain its pace of employment, however. Firms have begun to worry about a lack of skilled employees; the unemployment rate is already near a nine-year low and warm February weather across the United States – the construction industry reported 58,000 new jobs -- likely inflated the employment gains, Marketwatch Inc. said Friday. It noted that Trump has moved to cut taxes and remove regulations, and that consumer optimism is at its highest level in 15 years.
The BLS statistics include data on wages; average wages rose 0.2 percent in February to $26.09, and hourly pay increased 2.8 percent in the past 12 months.