The US employment engine roared in February, adding more new jobs than any month in over a year as robust hiring picked up in construction, retail and manufacturing, the government said today. 

US employers added 313,000 net new non-farm jobs last month, the biggest monthly increase since July 2016.

The US unemployment rate remained steady at 4.1% for the fifth month in a row, the Labor Department said in the highly-anticipated monthly report. 

The result shattered economists' expectations, giving President Donald Trump a shot in the arm just as his support for his "America First" economic agenda appeared to be on shaky ground. 

Trump broke with the leaders of his own Republican Party this week, announcing steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports in a move denounced by top congressional leaders, who said it could undermine the benefits of December's sweeping tax cuts and prompt a global trade war. 

The news also was likely to heighten Wall Street anxieties that the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates even faster than expected in 2018. 

On top of the exceptionally strong February, the job gains in December and January were revised up by a combined 54,000, bringing average monthly job creation to a strong 242,000 a month for the latest three months, the Labor Department. 

Hourly wages in the US gained 0.2% for the month, matching analyst expectations but putting compensation up 2.6% over the same month last year.

The increase was ahead of consumer inflation, which was measured at 2.1%, and could fuel concerns about rising inflation pressures. 

The goods-producing sector, including mining, manufacturing and the car sector, added 100,000 new positions while the private services sector added 187,00 jobs. 

The public sector gained 26,000, with hiring added in education and at the state government level.

There also were signs the hunger for increasingly scarce workers was causing companies to dig deeper into the labour pool. 

The number of discouraged workers or those marginally attached to the labour market - such as people working part time who want a full-time position - fell 149,000 from a year earlier to 373,000.