The unemployment rate dipped to 4.5 percent and workers got fatter paychecks in February, even as bad winter weather sent a bit of a chill through U.S. job growth.
The latest employment picture, released by the U.S. Labor Department on Friday, suggested employers are holding up well and opportunities continue for jobseekers as the economy deals with a sluggish spell, a housing slump and troubles in the automotive industry.
Employers - both private companies and the government - added a total of 97,000 new jobs to their payrolls in February, the fewest in two years. Lousy winter weather was blamed for much of the slower job growth.
Construction companies - already feeling the strain of the ailing housing market - slashed 62,000 jobs in February, the most in 16 years, as nasty weather hit many parts of the country.