The strength shown by the jobs gains could further erase fears the economy is heading into a recession. Fred Katayama reports.
Employers ramped up hiring in February. Non farm payrolls rose by 242,000 - that's way more than economists had expected. And the Labor Department upwardly revised the previous two months' jobs gains by 30,000. The unemployment rate held steady at 4.9 percent. Cranking out the most jobs: healthcare, retail and food services. Mining continued to slash jobs. Other sectors cutting payrolls include manufacturing, and transportation. Economists say the strong job gains lessens the likelihood of a U.S. recession. ITG's chief economist Steve Blitz says the quality of jobs produced isn't great. SOUNDBITE: STEVE BLITZ, CHIEF ECONOMIST ITG INVESTMENT RESEARCH (ENGLISH) SAYING: "It's great more people have jobs, more income into the economy, but the pace of growth in terms of that income remains slow and so to get that acceleration the Fed would like to see in consumer spending, in home buying, these aren't the kind of jobs that will generate what they're looking for." Wages inched lower, stepping back from January's torrid rise. And weekly hours worked fell as well. Investors were hoping for a goldilocks number that indicates economic growth but one not strong enough to raise the probability of a Fed interest rate hike. SOUNDBITE: STEVE BLITZ, CHIEF ECONOMIST ITG INVESTMENT RESEARCH (ENGLISH) SAYING: "It certainly keeps June in play. I think March is still a no go in terms of the Fed making any kind of moves." Fed policymakers next meet in mid March.