The number of jobs in the U.S. fell by 36,000 last month, and the unemployment rate held steady at 9.7%, according to figures out this morning from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The jobs picture was almost certainly hurt by February's big snowstorms, which prevented some people from making it to work (for more on that, see this post from yesterday). The commissioner of the BLS said today the weather may have affected the jobs numbers, but added that "there are too many unknowns to say precisely how much the weather might have affected these measures."
In any case, the rate of job loss is slowing -- in February of 2009, by comparison, the economy lost 726,000 jobs. And many analysts expect the economy to start adding jobs this year.
"We are almost there, the point where we are consistently adding jobs," Ken Mayland, president of ClearView Economics, told Bloomberg News. "The economy is making incremental but broad-based gains towards improvement."
There are about 131 million non-farm payroll jobs in the U.S., and more than 8 million jobs have been lost since the start of the recession.
A few other interesting details in today's numbers:
- The number of jobs in the construction industry fell, and the number of jobs in health care rose -- both trends that have run throughout the recession.
- The number of people working part time who preferred full-time work was 8.8 million in February, up from January but down from the last months of 2009.
- Calculated Risk has an updated version of a graphic that shows just how bad job losses have been in this recession, compared with other recessions since World War II.