Finally, some optimistic news about the economy: the US unemployment rate is now at 8.9 percent, its lowest level since April 2009. Total payroll employment has grown by 1.3 million, an average of 106,000 per month, since February 2010.
The Labor Department reported that the nation’s employers added 192,000 non-farm jobs in February, up from an increase of 63,000 jobs in January. Job growth took place in manufacturing, construction and service-providing industries.
- Manufacturing employment rose by 33,000 (including machinery, more than 9,000, and fabricated metal products, more than 7,000).
- Construction employment also grew by 33,000, after a decline of 22,000 in January, which may have been affected by winter storms. The largest growth in this category was within specialty trade contractors (more than 28,000).
- Transportation and warehousing employment increased by 22,000.
- Job growth within the service-providing sector was also substantial; 47,000 jobs were added in professional in business services, 29,000 in employment services and 7,000 in management and technical consulting.
- The health care sector added more than 34,000 jobs.
- Not every sector had job increases; state and local government both had layoffs. Local government has lost 377,000 jobs since September 2008.
The number of people looking for work in the country still remains high, 13.7 million, though it has decreased by 1.2 million since last year. The unemployment problem will not be solved over night, but steady job growth is a positive sign of progress. Many economists are optimistic that employment gains will continue in future months.
A few experts shared their opinions in the New York Times:
“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.”
“It’s a puzzle, a genuine puzzle why that number has been stuck,” a senior economist at Credit Suisse, Jay Feldman, said. “I expect it to recover somewhat in the coming months as the labor market improves and more people become encouraged about their job prospects.”
Have you noticed the recent job growth in your industry? In your experience, do you think the economy is turning a corner?
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