USA employers added the most workers since mid-2016 as labor-force participation swelled, while below-forecast wages and a downward revision to January's figure suggest the pay gains that spooked markets last month haven't yet taken hold.
Employment in other major industries, including wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, leisure and hospitality, and government showed little change over the month.
In the January employment report, a 2.9% year-over-year gain in average hourly earnings - the fastest pace since 2009 - sparked a sell-off in stock and bond markets amid worries that wage inflation was picking up enough to cause the Federal Reserve to ramp up its interest rate hike plans.
Walmart's minimum-wage hike to $11 an hour was its first for new, entry-level workers since 2015, when it raised its minimum wage to $9 an hour. The unemployment rate had been expected to dip to 4.0%.
"We've seen above consensus growth [measured in new jobs] with little to no inflation", Mahajan said of the latest employment data. This contributed to a 0.3% increase in the labor force participation rate to 63%. It was the strongest monthly gain since July 2016.
Nine years into an economic expansion, jobs reports don't get much better than this.
Over the past year, the total number of nonfarm jobs in Pennsylvania increased 1.1 percent. In the 12 months ended in February, analysts had forecast a monthly gain of 0.2% and an annual increase of 2.8%.
The survey also said the number of paid employee jobs increased last month by 58,800 positions, compared with a decrease in self-employed positions of 43,300. The average workweek rebounded to 34.5 hours after falling to 34.4 hours in January. A dip to 4% will create more upward pressure on wages.
Hiring was strong across the board and particularly in goods- producing industries.
Construction firms added 61,000 workers, the biggest increase in almost 11 years for the sector. But as Feburary's large increase in the labor force showed, there are still Americans on the sidelines who can be lured back to a growing jobs market and keep wages from rising more quickly.
The labor market is benefiting from strong domestic demand, an improvement in global growth as well as robust USA business sentiment following the Trump administration's $1.5 trillion income tax cut package that come into effect in January.
Steel and aluminum producers would presumably hire more people.