Official unemployment rate still at 8.3%
The economy added another 227,000 jobs last month, but most analysts are saying that we still haven't turned the corner on the employment problem.
New York Times:
In yet another sign of a strengthening recovery, the United States added 227,000 net jobs in February, the third consecutive month of gains over 200,000. The unemployment rate was unchanged from 8.3 percent in January, the Labor Department reported Friday, as nearly a half million people who had been staying on the sidelines rejoined the search for work.
The strong job growth numbers could bolster President Obama's effort to make the case to voters that his economic policies are working. Job gains in January and December were also stronger than previously reported, revised upward by the Labor Department to 284,000 and 223,000 respectively.
Average wages, which many economists were watching closely, ticked up as well, from $23.28 an hour to $23.31 an hour, but still trailed inflation. If growth in hiring is accompanied by stronger growth in wages, it could be a sign that unemployment among qualified workers is dropping and that more of the remaining people looking for work are not well-suited for current vacancies.
The recovery has been here before -- last February, March and April saw net gains of more than 200,000 jobs each month. But then the effects of high gas prices, the earthquake in Japan and the resurgence of the fiscal woes in Europe kicked in, slowing job growth to a crawl.
"Everyone got burned last year, from being elated over the better economic data only to have their hopes dashed come spring," said Ellen Zentner, an economist with Nomura Securities International. "If we can get past April and these trends continue, I'll breathe easy."
That half a million people who rejoined the hunt for jobs is a drop in the bucket. Another 3-4 million people are still too discouraged to look for work. Couple that with the abnormally warm winter, and some analysts believe that the boost that April usually gives the jobs numbers will be lacking this year due to unusual construction activity for this time of year.