American employers stepped up hiring in February with the unemployment rate dropping to its lowest level since the spring before US President Barack Obama assumed office.
Market analysts say this could impose severe pressure on the Federal Reserve Bank to raise interest rates in June.
Nonfarm payrolls surged 295,000 in February after rising 239,000 in January, according to the US Labor Department report. The broad gain in job market came despite severe disruptions due to harsh winters that made life restless across large parts of the United States in the middle of February.
The rate of unemployment fell two-tenths of a percentage point to 5.5 percent, which is its lowest level since May 2008, tumbling into territory that some Federal Reserve officials consider consistent with complete employment.
Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West in San Francisco, said, “The labor market is on a roll. This should ease fears at the Fed that the global downturn and sharp drop in oil prices are materially disrupting the US economic outlook, and keep the Fed firmly on course for a June lift-off.”
The stocks at Wall Street and shorter-dated government bonds dropped sharply as traders continued to bet when the US central bank would raise key rates.
The US dollar hit an 11-1/2-year high against the euro, which has been under severe pressure ever after the European Central Bank (ECB) announced a bond-buying program in order to lower euro zone borrowing costs.