What a difference 0.1% makes!

Sunrise in AnsouisThe economy is looking a little less gloomy today, now that the unemployment rate (8.9%) has dipped below 9% for the first time in nearly two years. Today’s report on February jobs data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics downplayed the small decrease, but it feels bigger in terms of a morale boost.

Quick thoughts from the report:

  • Of the total jobs added in February (192,000), about a third were in manufacturing and construction (66,000), the two hardest-hit sectors in the Great Recession. I’m used to hearing nothing but losses in these sectors.
  • Gains in professional and business service jobs (47,000) outpaced the gains in health care (34,000). Glad to see this variety; normally health care is the only sector with the biggest (and sometimes only) job gains.
  • The 8.9% unemployment figure might be enough to entice more of the dispirited and long-term jobless folks back into active job-search mode, which could mean a small boost back above 9% (since the overall rate is calculated by considering people who are actively looking for work).

Nonetheless, I gotta say this report has me singing the Gershwin chestnut “Things Are Looking Up.” Maybe my current jobless state has colored my reading of today’s report, too. But I’m feeling hopeful about March!

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