The nation lost a lower than expected 36,000 jobs in February, keeping the unemployment rate at 9.7 percent, the Department of Labor reported this morning.
The report was generally taken as good news, as the winter snow storms were expected to have reduced employment even further. Analysts had expected job losses of 50,000, according to a Reuters survey.
"Severe winter weather in parts of the country may have affected payroll employment and hours," the report said, "however, it is not possible to quantify precisely the net impact of the winter storms on these measures."
The report also found that there were 1.2 million discouraged workers in February who are not factored in the unemployment rate because they don't think jobs are available to them and thus have given up looking for work. That's up by 473,000 from a year earlier.
December job losses were revised downward to 109,000 from the 150,000 previously reported, while January losses were revised to 26,000 from 20,000.
The bottom line? In early trading, markets are reacting positively to the report, because it's better than expected and it seems like the job market is starting to flatten out. On the flip side, while it looks like layoffs are starting to taper off, millions of Americans still can't find jobs because employers don't seem to be hiring. So, I think it's easier to make the "turning the corner" case to the markets that it will be for the White House to make politically. Democrats need to see the economy actually start adding jobs at a good clip to improve their prospects this November.
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