The U.S. added 295,00 jobs to the economy in February, outpacing analysts’ expectations of 240,000. That number brought the national unemployment rate to 5.5 percent from its 5.7 percent rate in January, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. BLS also noted that January job growth was revised down to 239,000 jobs added from the previously reported 257,000.
February’s unemployment rate of 5.5 percent, as well as the number of unemployed persons -- 8.7 million -- edged down for the month. So far for 2015, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons are down by 1.2 percentage points and 1.7 million people, respectively, the report found.
February’s numbers marked the 12th straight month the economy has added more than 200,000 jobs, the longest such stretch since 1994.
The numbers also beat forecasts for the jobless rate, which was predicted to fall one-tenth of a percentage point to 5.6 percent, according to analysts interviewed by Reuters. Those numbers pushed higher despite cold and snow that blanketed much of the country in February. But the adverse conditions set in after the government surveyed employers, economists said.
The number of long-term unemployed, or individuals who have been without a job for 27 weeks or more, was little changed at 2.7 million in February. These individuals accounted for 31.1 percent of those unemployed, BLS reported, adding that over the past four quarters, the number of long-term unemployed has decreased by 1.1 million.
The civilian labor force participation rate was little changed at 62.8 percent in February and has remained within a narrow range of 62.7 to 62.9 percent since April 2014. The employment-population ratio was held at 59.3 percent in February but is up by half a percentage point over the year.