US job growth rose more than expected in February, even though extreme winter weather disrupted economic activity.
American employers added 175,000 workers to their payrolls. In addition the totals for December and January were revised up to show 25,000 more jobs created during those months than previously
With snow and ice covering densely populated areas during the week employers were surveyed for the February statistics, the financial world had been braced for much weaker numbers.
The unemployment rate did rise slightly from 6.6 to 6.7 percent of the workforce, though that was blamed on people staying home in the bad weather.
The survey of households from which the unemployment rate is derived showed 601,000 people could not get to work because of the storms, the highest level for February since 2010.
In addition 6.9 million people with jobs reported they were working part-time because of the weather. That was the highest reading for February since the series started in 1978.
The jobs figures showed professional and business services hiring increased by the most in a year.
Private sector payrolls rose by 162,000 and government added 13,000 jobs.
Federal Reserve officials, including Chair Janet Yellen, have indicated they believe the recent weakness in job creation is largely weather-related and temporary.
Most economists expect Fed policymakers to announce further cuts in their stimulus programme when they meet later this month.
“This bodes well for the economy since there were massive headwinds,” said Adam Sarhan, chief executive at Sarhan Capital in New York. “This report plays perfectly into the Fed’s script of tapering.”
Wall Street – which was expecting something lower – reacted positively.
The S&P 500 share index hit a fresh intraday high, but traders remained cautious amid the simmering crisis in Ukraine.