Solid hiring and pay gains expected in February jobs report

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The February employment report due out today is likely to have a big impact on Federal reserve decisions to raise interest rates as well as marking the first full month under the Trump administration.

U.S. employers are thought to have hired at a brisk pace and the unemployment rate is expected to stay low.

Data provider FactSet says economists have forecast a job gain of 186,000 and a decline of one-tenth of a percentage point in unemployment to 4.7 percent. With employers competing to hire a dwindling supply of applicants and higher minimum wages taking effect in some states, average pay is also thought to have risen.

If the economists' forecasts prove roughly correct, the Federal Reserve will almost surely feel confident enough to resume raising interest rates next week.

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