Unemployment rose slightly in February to 6.7 percent, the Labor Department announced Friday, while the U.S. added 175,000 jobs.
The growth in jobs was more than expected, and significantly more than the two months preceding it, which analysts said could diminish fears of an abrupt slowdown in economic growth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said employment increased in professional and business services, and in wholesale trade, while declining in information.
The uptick in unemployment came as a surprise; economists had predicted the number would have held steady at 6.6 percent. More Americans looked for work in February, which is considered an encouraging sign because more job hunters suggest that people were more optimistic about their prospects.
Experts said the unseasonably cold and snowy winter weather in much of the country did disrupt economic activity during the month. The expiration of long-term unemployment benefits for more than one million Americans in December and cuts to food stamps also had an adverse effect on spending,