US unemployment drops to 7.7%, lowest since 2008

Employment increased in professional and business services, construction, and health care.

Last Updated: Mar 08, 2013, 21:02 PM IST

Washington: The unemployment rate in the US has dropped to 7.7 percent - the lowest level since the end of 2008 -- with the addition of 2,36,000 new jobs in February, latest official figures released Friday said.

The Bureau of Labour Statistics in its monthly report said the total non-farm payroll employment increased by 2,36,000 in February and the unemployment rate edged down to 7.7 percent.

Employment increased in professional and business services, construction, and health care.

The latest figures reflect an upward trend in economic recovery.

For major parts of last year, the economy added an average of about 1,83,000 jobs a month.

But in the past four months, that it has been more than 200,000 a month on an average.

That's helped bring down the unemployment rate.

Still about 12 million Americans are jobless.

While the report is reflective of revival of the US economy, more work needs to be done, the White House said.

"While more work remains to be done, today's employment report provides evidence that the recovery that began in mid-2009 is gaining traction," Alan B Krueger, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to the US President, said.

Referring to the latest report, Krueger said it is important to bear in mind that the reference period for it was the week of February 10-16 for the household survey and the pay period containing February 12 for the establishment survey, both of which were before sequestration began.

"The Administration continues to urge Congress to move toward a sustainable Federal budget in a responsible way that balances tax loophole closing, entitlement reform, and sensible spending cuts, while making critical investments in the economy that promote growth and job creation and protecting our most vulnerable citizens," he said.

According to the establishment survey, employment rose notably in professional and business services in February (+73,000), construction (+48,000), health care (+32,000), leisure and hospitality (+24,000), and retail trade (+23,700), the White House official said.

"Manufacturing gained 14,000 jobs in February. The manufacturing sector has added over half a million jobs over the last 37 months, the most for any such period since 1986.

"In the last two years, the construction sector has added 306,000 jobs, with half of that increase occurring in the last five months, Krueger said.

"State and local governments lost 10,000 jobs in February, mostly in education. The local government education sector has now lost 340,700 jobs since its recent peak in November 2009," he said.