227,000 new jobs but rate stays at 8.3 pct

March 9, 2012 at 3:36 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 9 (UPI) -- The U.S. economy added 227,000 jobs in February, but the unemployment rate held stubbornly at 8.3 percent, the Labor Department said Friday.

It is still the lowest jobless rate since February of 2009.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest called the month's tally part of a "positive trend."

"As you know, we don't get too excited about one month's job numbers beating expectations, and we don't get too disappointed if there's one month of job s numbers that fail to meet expectations."

He said the administration was interested in "the longer trends," and said there were 1.3 million private sector jobs added in the past six months. "That is a positive trend," he said.

Economists, however, are concerned that the improving unemployment rate of the past six months has been heavily influenced by the number of people aging out of the workforce or giving up their hunt for a job out of sheer frustration.

There are 12.8 million people listed as unemployed.

Statistics show the percentage of adults employed is 58.5 percent and that number has not moved despite the falling unemployment rate, University of Maryland economics Professor Peter Morici said.

That means the unemployment rate has dropped for the past two years mostly because of people falling out of the statistics pool, not because of people finding jobs, Morici said.

Friday's report shows the number of people listed as long-term unemployed, defined as those unemployed for 27 weeks or more, was also "little changed" in February, holding steady at 5.4 million.

The Labor Department said in February 42.6 percent of the individuals counted as unemployed had been without work for 27 weeks or more.

Also in the category of stubborn issues, the department said there were 1 million discouraged workers in February -- people who had stopped looking for work because they believe there is no job available for them -- and this number was unchanged from a year earlier.

The 2.6 million listed as marginally attached to the labor force -- those who had looked for work in the past 12 months but not in the past four weeks -- was also unchanged from a year ago, the department said.

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