A US employers defied a global slowdown and pumped up hiring in February, adding a much better-than-expected 242,000 new jobs, the Labor Department reported Friday.
Previous months' gains were also revised higher, underscoring the resilience in the US economy amid worries that it was beginning to stall early this year.
The unemployment rate held at a low 4.9 percent, the lowest since February 2008 at the beginning of the Great Recession.
It was an encouraging rebound from January, when the original job creation estimate of 151,000 sparked concerns over growth. But that was revised Friday up to a more solid 172,000 new jobs.
Yet February's gains served to demonstrate that there still is significant slack in the jobs market. Average wages, which had begun to pick up over the past few months, fell in February.
The number of people forced to work part-time because of the lack of full-time positions hardly budged. And there was a rise in the number of long-term unemployed.
On the other hand, the data indicated that new hiring pulled back into the jobs market hundreds of thousands of people who, discouraged, had dropped out.
The labor force participation rate significantly rose 0.2 points to 62.9 percent, after having slumped as low as 62.4 percent last September.