The unemployment rate drops below 9%!

Unemployment drops below 9%!

It’s about this time of year, at the tail end of a long winter, that I start getting anxious for spring to arrive. But as the temperature is slowly rising, so is something else: employment.

The February jobs report released today found that unemployment dropped below 9% for the first time since April 2009. Barely—it’s now at 8.9%—but, hey, every .1% counts. (For some sobering perspective, however, note that the unemployment rate three years ago was 4.8%.)

In other good news, employers added 192,000 jobs to the economy last month, a big milestone compared to January’s addition of 63,000 jobs and economists’ hope of just reaching 120,000. The 192,000 gain came from private companies adding 222,000, while government jobs fell by 30,000 as payrolls shrank a little bit in the face of budget woes.

Experts seem to agree that while this month’s report doesn’t mean the economy’s problems are over (ha!), it’s very good news. The New York Times headline said “Job Growth Gathers Steam,” the Wall Street Journal touted this as a signal of “Economic Improvement,” and Ezra Klein at the Washington Post called it “the best jobs report in three years.”

John Ryding, an economist who spoke with the New York Times about the report, said this could be a sign the economic recovery is gaining momentum, especially in the consumer mindset. “People hesitate until they feel that the recovery’s durable enough, and then they have a tendency to jump in,” he said. “Maybe we’re finally getting to that jumping-in moment.”

Let’s hope so. And maybe this means spring is on the way, too.

Have you noticed that more of your acquaintances have found jobs?

february 2011 jobs jobs report unemployment

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