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Economy Adds 227,000 Jobs, But Jobless Rate Stays at 8.3%

The nation’s economy added 227,000 jobs in February, but the unemployment rate remained steady at 8.3 percent according to the latest figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The jobless rate has dropped by 0.8 percentage points since August and remains at its lowest point since February 2009. The New York Times reports that are about 1.6 million more jobs now than were last April and the new jobs were spread across more industries and more cities.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says that even with the positive signs of growth, “it will take some time before the benefits reach many middle-class and working poor families.”

We must reinforce the President’s efforts to revive an economy that works for the 99 percent, and we must block the destructive agenda of the 1 percent and their Republican political allies…. We must instead build an economy built to last. By contrast, Congressional Republicans and GOP candidates running for President would have us repeat the mistakes that caused the crash of 2008 and the Great Recession.

The number of jobless workers—12.8 million—was unchanged  from January and the number of long-term unemployed workers (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) dipped slightly from at 5.5 million in January to 5.4 million last month, or about 42.6 percent of the workforce.

Private-sector jobs grew by 233,000 and government employment was essentially unchanged, but over the past 12 months about 280,000 public employee jobs have been lost.

In February, professional and business services add about 82,000 jobs, but a little more than half were in the temporary services area. Health care employment grew by 61,000 jobs and the leisure and hospitality industry added 44,000 jobs.

Manufacturing saw an increase of 31,000 jobs, mostly in durable goods. Durable goods manufacturing has increased by 444,000 jobs since 2010. Construction employment dropped by about 14,000 jobs, mostly in residential construction. 

The unemployment rates for adult men (7.7 percent), adult women (7.7 percent), African Americans (14.1 percent), whites (7.3 percent) Hispanics (10.7 percent) and teenagers (23.8 percent) were little changed.

Economic Policy Institute (EPI) economist Heidi Shierholz says the latest figures “show a strengthened recovery [and] mark two full years of job growth.” She says the labor market has gained back 3.5 million jobs during the past two years after losing 8.7 million in the downturn.

However, the jobs deficit remains very large.  We have 5.3 million fewer jobs now than we did before the recession started, and we should also have added around 4.6 million jobs over this period just to keep up with normal growth in the working-age population.  Even at the quite strong average growth rate of the last three months (245,000 jobs added per month), it would take roughly five years to get back to full employment in the labor market.

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