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Economy Adds 192,000 Jobs, Unemployment Dips to 8.9%, Best in 2 Years

| March 4, 2011

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The U.S. economy added 192,000 jobs in February, the strongest private-sector job gain in two years, and the unemployment rate fell below 9 percent for the first time since April 2009, when it was at 8.9 percent and rising.

Job gains for December and January were revised upward by 58,000 for the two months. The combined, three-month total in net new jobs is 407,000, and 1.3 million since February 2010, for an average monthly job gain of 106,000. The economy needs to add about 125,000 per month just to stay evening with normal growth in the labor force. The labor force didn’t grow much in February, thus enabling the unemployment rate to dip.

The job-creation pace is accelerating. But it’s still not enough to return the unemployment rate back to its pre-recession levels. When the unemployment rate was below 5 percent, the economy was creating between 300,000 and 400,000 jobs a month.

The number of unemployed persons remained at 13.7 million, and the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was 6 million, accounting for 43.9 percent of the unemployed.

February Job gains by sector: Manufacturing picked up 33,000 jobs, especially in durable goods industries, machinery and metal works. Manufacturing has added 195,000 jobs since its most recent trough in December 2009. Construction grew by a relatively healthy 33,000 after declining 22,000 in January. Most of the job growth was in specialty trade contracting, not in the sort of housing construction Florida depended on.

Service jobs also expanded, with 47,000 new jobs in professional and business services. Employment services added 29,000 jobs, management and technical consulting added 7,000. But temp jobs also went up. There are 8.3 million people employed part-time–not by choice, but because their hours were cut or because they’ve been unable to find full-time work.

Health care employment also continued to increase in February, by 34,000.

There were job losses ins some sectors, too, led by state and local governments. The Local government sector alone has lost 377,000 jobs since its peak in September 2008. Despite some positive signs, the Wall Street Journal reports, the Federal Reserve “still expects unemployment to range from 7.5 percent to 8 percent at the end of 2012 as the economy only slowly regains the 8.75 million jobs lost in 2008 and 2009. Businesses remain cautious, often increasing hours worked by existing employees rather than hiring new workers.”

“Economic recoveries can be like a snowball rolling down a hill, in that it takes time to get some momentum,” John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics, told The Times this morning. “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 average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.2 hours in February. The manufacturing workweek for all employees rose by 0.1 hour to 40.5 hours. Factory overtime rose by 0.2 hour to 3.3 hours. The average work- week for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.1 hour to 33.5 hours. Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 1 cent to $22.87. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 1.7 percent, not quite even with inflation. In February, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees were unchanged at $19.33.

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8 Responses for “Economy Adds 192,000 Jobs, Unemployment Dips to 8.9%, Best in 2 Years”

  1. The Truth says:

    Don’t worry – many media outlets (particularly Fox News) will put a spin on this in some negative way and scare the American people even more. Our economy is recovering, slowly but surely, and there is nothing anyone can do about this. We need to start building consumer confidence and hopefully things will continue on the up and up. The problem we face is that too many people plant their face in the news 24/7 and all they hear about is doom and gloom.

    Get out, enjoy our beautiful weather and take a deep breath. Our country is resilient and will get past this just like we get past everything else.

  2. JIM.R says:

    Meanwhile, all over Florida riots were taking place as workers wanted that $19.33 instead of the $8.00 an hour most of them are getting.
    One way to build consumer confidence is to pay a living wage, then maybe workers would have the $ to spend to get the economy moving.
    Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen, and gloom and doom is often just awake and aware

  3. The Truth says:


    I agree that wages should be higher. I also understand why they’re not.

    Go to any retail store, restaurant or anywhere, for that matter, and you will hear nothing but complaints from customers about prices. Consumers in Florida seem to complain more than any where else imaginable. They always find something to complain about and will spend all day driving around comparing prices at grocery stores rather than shopping at those that are closest to them and spending an extra $0.03 for whatever it is they are buying.

    Florida consumers are cheap. The nation as a whole is becoming very cheap. Everyone wants something for nothing – regardless of what service they are receiving.

    I am not saying not to shop around for good deals, but unfortunately, our state (and nation) are so cheap with everything that we would prefer to support an illegal business and/or outsourcing if it means lower prices.

    I can obviously see that you are probably watching Fox News as you are reading this and I hit a sensitive spot with that remark, but unfortunately it’s the truth. Your friend Glenn Beck is making millions off of your stupidity.

  4. JIM.R says:

    Mr Truth
    Your logic is stunning, and I would explain how you missed the point but I’m right in the middle of my usual Sunday reading of the Communist Manifesto.
    Glenn Beck? who is Glenn Beck?

  5. kevin says:

    If you broadly increase wages Jim in support of the commonly and ignorantly referred to living wage theory, you will cause inflation and the cost of goods and services to rise eating away at purchasing power. There will be more dollars chasing the same number, and possible decreasing number of, goods and services.

    You want to increase wages…create your own business and products or services, risk your own money, and pay your employees what you want. If there was less regulations to businesses there would be more net income to work with and potentially available to deserving employees. We need honest, intelligent individuals sytematically reduce governement.

    What I think should happen is their should be significantly higher taxes on the top 1-4% income earners. A risk is they will most likely leave our country.

  6. JIM.R says:

    And I say good riddance to the greedy bastards, when you get up into the outrageous compensation paid to executives in most cases their earnings come from exploiting those beneath them. You know, like neutron Jack (may he rot in hell) who gained fame and increased the bottom line by firing and laying off the workforce.
    Kevin , the argument that increased wages cause inflation is beside the point and of no merit. A living wage means that you earn enough to live on, the cost of goods and services is irrelevant, If people earned enough there wouldn’t be millions on food stamps and other forms of Govt. assistance, thereby saving taxpayers untold millions, and also allowing workers the dignity they deserve

  7. William says:

    Here’s a short video regarding income distribution:

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