Economy adds a pretty good 227,000 jobs in February; unemployment rate unchanged at 8.3%

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 227,000 in February, and the unemployment rate was
unchanged at 8.3 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment rose in
professional and businesses services, health care and social assistance, leisure and hospitality,
manufacturing, and mining.

This is a solid report — and another indication that the recovery is taking hold, and maybe even accelerating, despite concerns about worldwide growth, the fact that Europe appears to be in recession, and high gas prices.

More good news:

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for December was revised from +203,000 to +223,000,
and the change for January was revised from +243,000 to +284,000.

And more:

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) was little changed at 5.4 million in February. These individuals accounted for 42.6 percent of the unemployed.

Both the labor force and employment rose in February. The civilian labor force participation rate, at 63.9 percent, and the employment-population ratio, at 58.6 percent, edged up over the month.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as
involuntary part-time workers) was essentially unchanged at 8.1 million in February. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

I’ve also been paying close attention to U-6: “U-6Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force.”

U-6 has fallen to 14.9% (all this data is seasonally adjusted) from 15.1% in January.

As I’ve noted before the seasonal adjustments on employment data are huge. Even in January’s healthy report, the economy actually lost 2.6 million jobs. In February’s healthy report, the economy actually added over 800,000 jobs. But it’s entirely typical to see those types of swings at this time of year, and in both cases, the bottom line number looked good to economists. I had been concerned that something in the seasonal adjustment process might have overstated the perceived improvement in January; with another month of data behind us, that concern has been largely if not entirely allayed.

I’ll take a look at some of the details more closely later and do a follow up post if anything stands out.

Of course, we still have a long way to go. Another graph from Calculated Risk: