The U.S. economy added 236,000 jobs in February, according to an initial Bureau of Labor Statistics report, significantly exceeding analyst expectations and suggesting a strengthening economic recovery.
The payroll employment figure — along with a sharp drop in the unemployment rate from 7.9 to 7.7 percent — suggests the economic consequences of sequestration have not yet reduced the rate of economic growth in the country.
More narrowly, the report indicates that stimulative Federal Reserve policies are creating growth in sectors that were until recently depressed.
Employment in construction increased by 48,000 in February, significantly larger than January’s increase of 28,000 jobs in that sector. A full 17,000 of those jobs were taken by residential contractors.
Professional and business services, which include a wide range of support jobs, added 73,000 new hires, substantially more than January’s anemic total of 16,000.
Health care continues to be strong sources of growth as well. In February, the health care industry added 32,000 jobs.
But the public sector continues to be a drag on growth. The government shed 10,000 jobs, nearly all at the state and local level.
Friday’s early indication suggests the economy added more jobs in February than in any month since November, during which 247,000 jobs were created after revisions. We’ll have a much clearer picture of the February employment situation when the April jobs report is released in early May.
This report contains mixed news for previous months. BLS now indicates that the economy added 219,000 jobs in December, up from an earlier revision of 196,000, and well above the initial estimate of 155,000.
But BLS now reports that the economy created only 119,000 jobs in January, down significantly from an initial estimate of 157,000.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.