The unemployment rate dipped slightly to 7.7 percent as employment increased by 236,000 in February, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday, including increases in accounting and bookkeeping jobs.
The BLS noted that employment increased in professional and business services, construction, and health care. Accounting and bookkeeping services added 11,000 jobs, and growth continued in computer systems design and in management and technical consulting services.
Even though the unemployment rate edged down to 7.7 percent in February, it has shown little movement since September. The number of unemployed persons, at 12.0 million, also edged lower in February.
Professional and business services added 73,000 jobs in February, but employment in the industry only increased by 16,000 in January. In February, employment in administrative and support services, which includes employment services and services to buildings, rose by 44,000.
In February, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at about 4.8 million. These individuals accounted for 40.2 percent of the unemployed.
The BLS also adjusted the employment figures for the previous two months. The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for December was revised upward from 196,000 to 219,000, and the change for January was revised downward from 157,000 to 119,000.
The Obama administration hailed the improved job numbers. “While more work remains to be done, today’s employment report provides evidence that the recovery that began in mid-2009 is gaining traction,” wrote Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, in a blog post. “Today’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that private sector businesses added 246,000 jobs in February. Total non-farm payroll employment rose by 236,000 jobs last month. The economy has now added private sector jobs every month for three straight years, and a total of 6.35 million jobs have been added over that period.”
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said more work needed to be done on reducing unemployment and the budget deficit.
“Any job creation is positive news, but the fact is unemployment in America is still way above the levels the Obama White House projected when the trillion-dollar stimulus spending bill was enacted, and the federal government's ongoing spending binge has resulted in a debt that exceeds the size of our entire economy,” he said in a statement. “As 180 economists said in a statement this week, our spending-driven deficit threatens our economy, and responsible spending cuts are needed ‘to help put the country on a path to a balanced budget within ten years.’ And yet there’s news today that the president's budget, which is already more than a month late, might slip to April.”
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