With 236,000 jobs gained in the US in February, and 130,000 people leaving the work force, the unemployment rate fell to 7.7%. The New York Times has the story:
Bolstered by a healthier private sector, the United States economy gained 236,000 jobs in February, well above what had been expected, while the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent, its lowest level since December 2008.
The gains were broad-based, the Labor Department said Friday, with sectors ranging from manufacturing to business services turning in healthy results. Construction was especially strong, adding 48,000 jobs, a sign that the recovery in the housing market is beginning to translate into new jobs.
Public-sector employment continued to shrink, however, as the number of government employees nationwide fell by 10,000.
While many economists were encouraged by the report, some noted that the size of the labor force contracted by 130,000. Some of that was because of retirements, but some was also a result of discouraged workers giving up the search for jobs.
As a result, the labor participation rate sank to 63.5 percent, a low for the current economic cycle.