Unemployment holds amid solid hiring in February

Posted at 8:01 AM, Mar 09, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-09 11:57:31-05

By Annalyn Censky

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Hiring remained strong in February, but the overall job market is not out of the woods yet.

Employers added 227,000 jobs in February, the Labor Department reported Friday, a pinch slower than in January, when the economy added 284,000 jobs.

That said, job growth was still better than expected. Economists surveyed by CNNMoney had predicted 210,000 jobs added in the month.

Plus, upward revisions from January and December added an additional 61,000 jobs.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate remained at 8.3 percent, in line with expectations.

Private businesses were the main driver of job growth, and have been adding jobs consistently since March 2010. In February, they added 233,000 jobs.

Professional and business services added 82,000 jobs, but more than half of those were at temp agencies. The manufacturing sector added 31,000 jobs, health care added 49,000 jobs and restaurants and bars added 41,000 jobs.

Government job losses have been offsetting some of the private sector gains, with most of the bleeding at the state and local level. Last month, 6,000 jobs were lost in the public sector.

The American economy lost 8.8 million jobs during the financial crisis, and has since added back 3.5 million jobs. About 12.8 million people remain unemployed, and 42.6 percent of them have been out of work for six months or more.