Economy Gains Steam Adding 236,000 Jobs; Unemployment Rate Falls to 7.7%

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AP / Mark Lennihan

Job applicants complete forms at a job fair sponsored by Swissport, in Newark N.J.

For some time time now, the American economy has been a strange dichotomy. On the one hand, we’re in the midst of an historically strong four-year bull market, yet the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high. The real estate market is showing impressive strength, yet GDP growth is sluggish. The result is a situation where consumers, businesses, and even the government have become overly cautious, each waiting for the other to make the first move before they start behaving like we’re in a real recovery.

Last month, however, the situation began to look a bit brighter. The Labor Department announced that the economy added 157,000 jobs in January, but revised its previous estimates to show that job growth in the later half of 2012 was much better than expected. And this morning’s report — which shows that the economy added 236,000 jobs in February, and that the unemployment rate fell to 7.7% — is more evidence that the thawing of the labor market has picked up speed of late.

Looking deeper into the numbers we see a few more reasons to be cautiously optimistic. The average workweek increased by 0.1 hours, while the average hourly earnings also inched up by 4 cents. These metrics are key because a longer workweek indicates that employers may need to add employees to keep up with business. And earnings are very important for consumers’ ability to spend and stimulate the economy. Another key piece of data is that the construction sector added 48,000, bringing the total for new construction jobs to 151,000 since September. This shows that the housing recovery has begun to bolster the jobs situation in a meaningful way.

So what are the implications of today’s data? While no single report can say too much about the economy or the employment situation, the trend clearly shows a job market picking up steam. Apart from that being good news in its own right, Fed-watchers will be standing by to see if this news changes the bank’s stance on stimulus. Though Ben Bernanke has been at pains to communicate that stimulus will continue until after a true recovery has taken hold, some market participants are wary that the Fed will pull back sooner than Bernanke’s public comments indicate, and today’s numbers may stoke those fears.

Of course, nobody should get too excited about this single month of data, or even the underlying trend. At this very time last year many of us were overly optimistic about a three-month string of job growth that gave the false impression that the economy had reached escape velocity. Quickly thereafter, job growth tanked, taking with it the hope that 2012 would be the year of the robust recovery.

At the same time, today’s is a broadly positive report , and hopefully the kind we can expect to see a lot more of in the months to come.

20 comments
dr.milanzm1963
dr.milanzm1963

This morning Pr. Obama said that  “ businesses have created jobs every month for three years straight – nearly 6.4 million altogetherThe unemployment rate fell to 7.7%”.  SLOW  economic recovery in USA, EU, Japan, already slowed recovery in BRICS, and it will probably continue to be SLOW, during next 2-3 years…For USA, I gave my support to Mr. Buffett opinion, who want to see  18,5% of GDP as a revenue and 21% as a spending… Economy, unemployment, houses market depression are improving in USA. During second term, I gave my full support to Pr. to prevent GRIDLOCK in Congress, “Economic Patriotism” and gun control…

jbeam794
jbeam794

This is a huge slap in all Republican face. I love it. I'm sure they started there spin.   Obama get's 100% credit GOP gets 0.   I feel the GOP owes the American people 4 years worth of pay checks .  They have not done one thing to help in at least that long.  NOT ONE THING.  How worthless is that. 

ragingleftie
ragingleftie

Romney just wishes he was there, I can feel his pain and I laugh in its face. 

Labib CHowdhury
Labib CHowdhury

optimism is always prolific .. though dn know how to recuperate those house loans

Greg Sheets
Greg Sheets

So let me get this straight, when Bush was president they had a more accurate way of calculating these statistics . Lol . What a bunch if morons.

Greg Sheets
Greg Sheets

The same way they have been doing these statistics for years.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

Romney is just bitter that he isn't in the White House to take credit for this improvement.

Drew Waller
Drew Waller

So by your logic, cynics and pessimists, you know all those people who cut themselves, they're much better at dealing with reality?

SmoothEdward1
SmoothEdward1

By the time I count to 10, Jack Welsh will shit all over this.

Shishi Habeck
Shishi Habeck

No. The numbers are cooked as they always are. Next week the adjustments will be made. The corrupt scum in this administration are pathological liars

Dewun Green
Dewun Green

দেশটা যেহেতু বাংলাদেশ,৭১’র চেতনা সভ্য বাঙ্গালী বুকে,হিসাব দিতেই হবে...আমার মা-মাটি ,আমার লাল সবুজের সপ্ন চেতনাই আঘাত কারীদের ,সেই পুরনো ভ্রান্ত ভন্ডামীর মখোস আজ উম্মোচিত,আজ বাঙ্গালীর ৭১’র মহান সপ্ন পূর্ণতার সময় এসেছে,আপন বিবেক আজ জাগ্রত., যে, যেখানে,যে অবস্থাই নিজ কর্মের মধ্যেই জ্বালিয়ে দাও আপন বহ্নিশিখা.........সত্যের বিজয় ইনসাল্লাহ্।

Joseph C. Brock
Joseph C. Brock

^^^ Exactly, where were these jobs created? McD's doesn't really count, right??

Lori Lawrence
Lori Lawrence

How many of those are in the service sector paying minimum wage?!

MichaelGorry
MichaelGorry

Great that jobs have increased.  But at what pay scales.  Provide some information on the number of jobs at different wage levels.

tailwind360
tailwind360

@jbeam794  While americans are out of work, and schools are closing in mass numbers in the tri state area, and our country is giving the middle east hundred of millions of dollars of aid. your happy that the president is doing well. your dreaming, as long as our children are failing in schools, and schools are closing do to money problems, how does anyone affirm that our country is fine. 

jbeam794
jbeam794

@MichaelGorry I just got a job making 18 an hour running a milling machine. For the past 2 months we have been working 55 hours a week . They have a 6 month back log. 

NickSchooler
NickSchooler

As long as executive pay is higher that is all that matters.