The U.S. economy added 227,000 jobs in February, but the national unemployment rate was unchanged as more people entered the workforce. The unemployment rate stayed at 8.3 percent, the lowest in three years, after three of the best months of hiring since the recession began.
The Labor Department’s monthly report showed hiring in January and December to have been better than previously through, revising those figures to show 61,000 additional jobs. The economy has generated an average of 245,000 new jobs in each of the last three months.
Last month’s hiring was broad-based, with employers in manufacturing and mining, as well as professional services like accounting, all adding to job gains. Job growth was distributed between both high-paying and lower-paying industries. Governments at all levels cut just 6,000 jobs in February and 1,000 in January, after having cut an average of 22,000 jobs per month in 2011.
However, nearly a half-million people began looking for work last month, and most found jobs, according to the report. Many people who had given up looking for work were encouraged to try again by recent economic reports and reports of job gains.
Only those people without jobs who are actively seeking employment are counted as unemployed. A key reason why the unemployment rate has dropped since last year is that many out-of-work people have simply stopped looking for jobs. Therefore, a sustained rise in the number of people looking for jobs is a good sign, even if the unemployment rate doesn’t change.
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