U.S. payrolls increase, do does jobless rate

The pace of job growth in the United States has picked up, but hasn’t yet matched average monthly payroll gains for 2013.

According to the latest statistical snapshot from the Department of Labor, nonfarm payrolls grew 175,000 in February, the biggest gain in three months. Moreover, initial estimates for job growth in January and December were revised upward 25,000 to a combined 213,000.

The new numbers bring average monthly payrolls gains over the past year to 189,000, slightly below the average monthly increase of 194,000 during 2013.

The unemployment rate inched up to 6.7 percent in February,  a tenth of a point higher than what had been the lowest reading in more than five years.

The number of people counted among the long-term unemployed who’ve been out of work for 27 weeks or longer increased 203,000 to 3.8 million.

The number of people counted among those working part-time for economic reasons was little changed at 7.2 million.

Payroll gains were spread out among a number of industry sectors in February. Professional and business services added 79,000 positions, while employment increased 21,000 in food services and drinking places and 15,000 each in construction and wholesale trades.

The information sector shed 16,000 jobs, while payrolls decreased 4,000 in retail trades.

The average workweek for employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down a tenth of an hour to 34.2 hours. The average manufacturing workweek held steady at 40.7 hours.

Average hourly earnings for employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose 9 cents to $24.31. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have increased 52 cents, or 2.2 percent.