Updated from 8:38 a.m. EST
Employers added 97,000 workers to nonfarm payrolls in February, while the unemployment rate ticked just lower to 4.5%.
The numbers were right in line with what Wall Street wanted to see and support the view of a U.S. economy that's growing at a healthy pace but not at a rate that will heighten fears of inflation.
On average, economists polled by
ahead of the data were looking for an addition of 95,000 jobs. The unemployment rate was expected to remain at 4.6%.
The Labor Department said Friday that employment improved in some service-providing industries, but fell sharply in construction. Manufacturing positions continued to trend downward.
Average hourly earnings rose by 6 cents, or 0.4%, over the month.
Revised numbers showed that 146,000 jobs were added in January, up from the prior report that 111,000 workers joined payrolls. In December, 226,000 new workers found jobs.
Stock index futures and Treasury yields rose after the report.