The economy gained 192,000 non-farm jobs in February, and the unemployment rate dropped slightly to 8.9% from 9% in January, the Labor Department announced today. This is the best reading since April, 2009. The job gains occurred in manufacturing, construction, professional and business services, health care, and transportation and warehousing. This survey follows Thursday’s Labor Department report that weekly initial unemployment benefits claims had dropped to their lowest level since October, 2008.
In February, 2.7 million persons were not in the labor force, but wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job in the prior year. This was up from 2.5 million a year earlier. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. Among these “marginally attached,” there were one million discouraged workers in February, a decrease of 184,000 from a year earlier. Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (8.7%), adult women (8.0%), teenagers (23.9%), whites (8%), blacks (15.3%), and Hispanics (11.6%) showed little or no change in February. The jobless rate for Asians was 6.8 percent, not seasonally adjusted. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was 6 million and accounted for 43.9% of the unemployed.
According to our research, just over 80% of millionaire households think that a drop in the unemployment rate is a significant indicator that the recession is over, but only two percent think that an unemployment rate under 9% will get the job done. Economists say that around 300,000 jobs need to be added to the workforce on a monthly basis to signal a significant drop in the unemployment rate.