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Friday, March 04, 2011

Economy Adds 192,00o Jobs as Rate Falls to 8.9% - NYTimes.com

Economy Adds 192,00o Jobs as Rate Falls to 8.9% - NYTimes.com

America’s job engine picked up some steam last month.

The nation’s employers added 192,000 jobs on net in February, after having added just 63,000 jobs the previous month, the Labor Department reported on Friday.

The February number was about what economists had been forecasting.

“Economic recoveries can be like a snowball rolling down a hill, in that it takes time to get some momentum,” said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics. “People hesitate until they feel that the recovery’s durable enough, and then they have a tendency to jump in. Maybe we’re finally getting to that jumping-in moment.”

The unemployment rate ticked down to 8.9 percent, falling below 9 percent for the first time in nearly two years. This rate, which comes from a separate survey and is based on the total number of Americans who want to work, has remained stubbornly high over the last year despite payroll growth. That is partly because the size of the working-age population has grown, and because the promise of more job opportunities has lured some discouraged workers back into the labor force.

Both the January and December numbers were revised higher — to 63,000 from 36,000 in January, and to 152,000 from 121,000 in December.

The higher growth in payroll employment was partly the result of a bounce back from unusually depressed hiring in January, when snowstorms shuttered offices and factories around the country. Even so, other recent economic reports — like those on unemployment insurance claims and manufacturing employment — also pointed to stronger demand for workers in recent months. The Federal Reserve, in a survey of its 12 districts, noted on Wednesday that the labor market had improved modestly, but the Fed chief, Ben S. Bernanke, told lawmakers that “until we see a sustained period of stronger job creation, we cannot consider the recovery to be truly established.”

A broader measure of unemployment, which includes people working part-time because they could not find full-time jobs and those so discouraged that they have given up searching, was 15.9 percent in February, down from 16.1 percent in January. That left 13.7 million people still out of work.

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