February Brings Drop in Unemployment, Best Job Report in Four Years
RAY SUAREZ: More jobs, less unemployment, those were the headlines from the government's latest report on the economy, released this morning.
It's been a tough climb for job-seekers, but things seemed to be looking up last month. Today's Labor Department data showed 236,000 jobs were added in February. January's numbers were revised down, but the figures from December were increased. All told, monthly gains have averaged more than 200,000 jobs since November.
In February, the construction sector alone added 48,000 jobs, the most in six years, spurred by a housing rebound. Retail also saw more hiring and manufacturing ticked up as well.
White House chief economist Alan Krueger.
ALAN KRUEGER, White House Council of Economic Advisers: I think if you look at today's report and some of the other indicators that have been coming, unemployment insurance claims, the ISM numbers, auto sales, we see a picture of an economy that's continuing to recover.
RAY SUAREZ: The day's other big number was the unemployment rate, which dropped to 7.7 percent. That was the lowest in four years.
The main reason was that more people found work, but some 130,000 others stopped looking for work, so they were no longer counted. Overall, the official number of unemployed now sits at just over 12 million Americans. It hasn't been that low since December of 2008.
All of this comes despite higher payroll taxes and despite uncertainty in the run-up to those across-the-board federal spending cuts that kicked in as of March 1st.