Feb. jobless figures down but concerns rise over govt. cuts


The nation's official unemployment rate declined ever so slightly for the third straight month in February, down 0.1 percent to 8.9 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced last week. Private businesses claimed they created 222,000 jobs, but strapped state and local governments cut 30,000 workers, for a net 192,000-job gain.

The number of unemployed declined by 190,000, to 13.7 million, while the number of employed people rose by 250,000, the BLS said. The bureau said the trend over the past few months, with hundreds of thousands of people dropping out of the labor force each month, did not repeat itself in February.

The jobless rate and numbers in February were both still far above the 4 percent rate and 5.9 million jobless when former GOP President George W. Bush took office in Jan., 2001. By the time he turned over the presidency to Democrat Barack Obama eight years later the jobless rate was 8 percent and rising.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka welcomed the positive numbers, but worried that state and local government cuts, which could be copied at the federal level thanks to GOP politicians could halt the slow recovery.

"The last thing we need right now is for misguided politicians to cut off the recovery before it can take hold," he said. "To sustain growth, politicians around the country need to come together to invest in creating good jobs and solving real problems, not slashing the federal budget, laying off workers or attacking the programs essential to middle class families."

Photo: In Wisconsin and across the country, labor sees that cuts in public service jobs can derail the fragile recovery. February 26, Madison, Wisc. Blake Deppe / PW