In a rather pleasant surprise, the Bureau of Labor Statistics just reported that businesses did not cut as many jobs as had been feared last month and that the nation's unemployment rate held steady at 9.7%.
There were 36,000 jobs shed, BLS said -- far fewer than the 50,000 or more that many economists expected. It was thought that February's bad weather, combined with the reluctance of employers to add jobs even as the economy appears to be recovering, had hammered the jobs numbers.
We'll update this post with more from the report momentarily, so be sure to hit your "refresh" button.
Update at 11:45 a.m. ET: At an event in Arlington, Va., President Barack Obama just said that while the job news was "better than expected," the losses were still "more than we should tolerate."
Update at 10:25 a.m. ET. White House Comment.
Christina Romer, chair of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, writes that:
"Although the labor market remains severely distressed, today's report on the employment situation is consistent with the pattern of stabilization and gradual labor market healing we have been seeing in recent months."
Update at 8:55 a.m. ET. Without Blizzards, Jobs Might Have Gone Up. From Bloomberg News:
"Without the weather in February this would have been a month for jobs growth," Ellen Zentner, a senior economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in New York, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. "We've got positive jobs growth in there, we just can't see it" due to the "weather effects."
Update at 8:45 a.m. ET. BLS says that:
-- "The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) was 6.1 million in February and has been about that level since December. About 4 in 10 unemployed persons have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more."
-- "The number of persons working part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) increased from 8.3 to 8.8 million in February."
-- "About 2.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in February, an increase of 476,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months."
-- "Among the marginally attached, there were 1.2 million discouraged workers in February, up by 473,000 from a year earlier."
Planet Money explains the economy here.