The prime-age (ages 25-54) employment rate rose 0.3 percentage points in February to 79.3 percent, a new high for the recovery. It rose 0.5 percentage points for men and 0.2 percentage points for women.

The employment-to-population ratio (EPOP) for prime-age men now stands 1.2 percentage points above its year-ago level, while the rate for women is 0.7 percentage points above its year-ago level.

This is consistent with the view that there are still many workers who are outside the workforce, but will return in response to a strong labor market. The implication is that there is still considerable slack in the labor market and there is little reason for the Federal Reserve to rush forward with interest rate hikes.

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