The US economy added 236,000 jobs in February according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of jobs added in January was revised downward from 157,000 to 119,000 but the number for December rose 23,000.
February’s numbers point to an upturn for the labor market, which has struggled to gain traction since the recession ended in 2009.
For all of last year, the economy added an average of about 183,000 jobs a month. Over the past four months, that pace has picked up a little to an average of 205,000 a month—though the gains have been choppy. January payrolls were revised to a gain of only 119,000 from the originally reported 157,000, while December was revised up to a gain of 219,000 from the previously reported 196,000.
More jobs have helped bring down the unemployment rate, though about 130,000 Americans dropping out of the labor force also contributed to the decline. There are still about 12 million Americans who want a job but can’t find one.
Even with recent gains, the unemployment rate is expected to remain well above the 6.5% threshold the Federal Reserve is targeting before allowing interest rates to rise. The Fed has kept interest rates near zero for more than four years, and is now buying $85 billion a month of Treasury and mortgage debt in an effort to stimulate growth.
Top Fed officials recently have said they are determined to maintain easy-money policies until well into the recovery.
The strong report shouldn’t alter the Federal Reserve’s policy outlook too much, said Scott Brown, an analyst with Raymond James Equity Research.
Bill McBride at Calculated Risk breaks down some of the details about labor participation rate — which is not good.
The numbers aren’t horrible, but at this rate, we may achieve the same level of employment that we had in 2007 in about 10 years.