The U.S. Labor Department said Friday that the economy added 227,000 jobs in February and that the official unemployment rate held steady at a seasonally adjusted 8.3 percent.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also noted that job growth in January and December had been revised upward by a total of 61,000 jobs. Job gains for January were revised up to 284,000 from 243,000 — the best month of job growth in six years — and net hiring in December was revised up to 223,000 from 203,000.
All of the growth, and then some, was in the private sector as governments shed another 6,000 jobs in February. BLS noted that governments in the U.S. lost an average of 22,000 jobs per month in 2011.
Professional and business services added 82,000 jobs in February. Just over half of the increase occurred in temporary help services (+45,000). Job gains also occurred in computer systems design (+10,000) and in management and technical consulting services (+7,000). Employment in professional and business services has grown by 1.4 million since a recent low point in September 2009.
The BLS alternative measure of labor underutilization rate (U-6) fell to 14.9 percent in February from 15.1 percent in January. The U-6 figure, which factors in Americans who have given up trying to find a job or are working part time against their wishes, is often cited by economists as the “real” unemployment rate.