9 Mar 2013

US job creation higher than expected

11:49 am on 9 March 2013

The United States economy created 236,000 jobs in February, a figure higher than analysts had expected.

New official figures showed the unemployment rate fell to 7.7% last month, the lowest since December 2008, from 7.9% in January.

Employment growth has risen by an average of 195,000 a month in the last three months. Analysts had forecast a rise of 165,000 jobs for February, the BBC reports

Despite the figures, the White House's chief economist said more work was needed as Congress remained divided over economic policy.

Alan Krueger said the employment report provided evidence that the recovery that began in mid-2009 was gaining traction.

But the White House continued to urge Congress to move toward a sustainable Federal budget and warned against reading too much into any one monthly report as payroll estimates were volatile and could be revised substantially, he said.

Professional and business services added 73,000 jobs last month and the construction, health care and retail sectors created jobs.

Only government lost 10,000 jobs in February, mostly in local education. The public education sector has now lost 340,700 jobs since its 2009 peak.

The number of long-term unemployed, defined as out of a job for at least 27 weeks, was unchanged, accounting for about 40% of the jobless total.