The U.S. economy added 227,000 jobs in February with the official unemployment rate staying at 8.3 percent according to new government figures released this morning.

The figures mean that the official unemployment rate has gone down by 0.8 percentage points since the beginning of August, keeping it at its lowest point since February of 2009.

There are officially 1.6 million more people working now than there were on the job last April, with the new jobs in a variety of industries.

“The latest figures show a strengthened recovery and mark two full years of job growth,” said Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the pro-labor Economic Policy Institute.  Shierholz said the economy has gained back 3.5 million of the 8.7 million jobs lost during the economic crash.

The jobs situation remains very serious, however, because the employment deficit is much larger than just the 5.7 million difference between the number employed at the time of the crash and the number working now.

In addition to the millions of jobs that should not have been lost, the economy, since the time of the crash, should have added millions of jobs to keep up with population growth.

“The jobs deficit is still way too large,” Shierholz explained. “We have 5.3 million fewer jobs now than we did before the recession started, and we should have added around 4.6 million jobs over this period just to keep up with normal growth in the working-age population.

“Even at the quite strong average growth rate of the last three months (245,000 jobs added per month), it would take roughly five years to get back to full employment in the labor market.”

The number of long term unemployed, although still high, dipped slightly.

Workers unemployed for 27 weeks or more now officially number 5.4 million, down a bit from the 5.5 million long term unemployed counted in January. The official total number of jobless workers remains at 12.8 million, unchanged since January.

Unemployment among public employees remains at disastrous levels, for the workers themselves and for the communities they serve. Public employees are not making out anywhere nearly as well as workers in the private sector.

The private sector added 233,000 jobs last month but the total jobs added was less, only 227,000 because of losses in the public sector. Over the last 12 months 280,000 public workers have lost their jobs.

During February professional and business services added 82,000 jobs, but half of these were in service areas that are services for which there is only a temporary need.

Jobs in the area of health care increased by 61,000 while the leisure and hospitality industry added 44,000 jobs. Growth in this area is often seen as a reliable indicator that at least some type of economic recovery is happening.

There was an increase of 31,000 manufacturing jobs which, overall, have increased by 444,000 since 2010.

Construction remained a disaster area, however, with the loss last month of an additional 14,000 construction jobs.

Unemployment rates changed little, by demographics.

For adult men it was 7.7 percent, adult women, 7.7 percent, African Americans, 14.1 percent, whites, 7.3 percent, Hispanics, 10.7 percent, and teenagers, 23.8 percent.



John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is editor in chief at He started as labor editor of the People's World in May, 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.