32K Jobs Lost In February, But Unemployment Holds At 9.7%

It’s a sign of just how bad it’s been in recent times when it’s taken as good news that the national unemployment rate is still 9.7%, which is what the latest Labor Dept. figures show for February. Also on the silver-lining front, while a net total of 36,000 jobs were lost last month, that’s 14,000 less than had been expected.

And while there are still 14.9 million unemployed Americans, some see this leveling out over the last two months — especially in light of the recent snowstorms — as a sign that the bleakest may be behind us.

“Employment is now very close to stabilizing,” Paul Ashworth, senior economist at Capital Economics, said in a report. “Although, eight months after the recession in output ended, that is hardly cause for celebration.”

As mentioned above, the 36,000 figure is a net total. Some sectors were still hit very hard in the last month. 64,000 construction jobs were lost, though many blame that on the seasonal nature of such work. And there were 31,000 local government jobs lost in the last month.

On the upside of things, the federal government added 7,000 new jobs. The number of temp jobs increased by 48,000. And, after two straight months of decline, there was a small increase of 1,000 new manufacturing jobs.

Feb. unemployment rate remains unchanged at 9.7 percent [Washington Post]