U.S. nonfarm payrolls were stronger than expected in February, up 379,000, versus the Bloomberg consensus forecast of 200,000. January payrolls were also revised up by 117,000. Payrolls in the leisure and hospitality sector improved in February and were up 355,000, following a combined decline of 523,000 in December and January. The unemployment rate declined to 6.2% in February from 6.3% in January. The participation rate was unchanged in February at 61.4%, and remained well below pre-pandemic levels. On a year-over-year basis, the size of the US civilian labor force has declined by more than 4.2 million people. Meanwhile, nearly ten million people remain unemployed. Workers who classified themselves as employed but absent from work in February continued to understate the unemployment rate by about 0.5%. The U-6 underemployment rate, which includes those who are marginally attached to the labor force and employed part time for economic reasons, was unchanged at 11.1% in February.

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