SUSIE GHARIB, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: U.S. companies are hiring again. That’s according to the government’s latest snapshot of the job market. And, Tom, the February market was even
better than expected.
TOM HUDSON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Yes, some strong numbers here, Susie. It also turned out
there were more jobs added in December and January than first reported. It
all adds up to even more jobs for the American economy. So let’s take a
look today’s data, the numbers here: The nation’s unemployment rate held
steady in February at 8.3 percent. But employers added 227,000 news jobs
to payrolls in the last month and an additional 61,000 happened to be added
in December and January.
GHARIB: Those strong numbers pushed up stocks a bit here on Wall
Street: The Dow rose 14 points. The NASDAQ added 18. The S&P was up
about 5 points. And that was even though Greece was officially declared in
default. And we’re going to have more on that a little later in the
program. But first, Suzanne Pratt takes a closer look at the labor news that’s
lifting spirits from Wall Street to Main Street.
SUZANNE PRATT, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Two hundred
twenty-seven thousand new jobs. That’s a nice boost in hiring for an
economy still riddled with question marks. It’s also the third straight
month of job growth over 200,000, a good sign for the fragile recovery.
Economist John Ryding calls it extremely encouraging.
RYDING: We’re hitting at an employment pace now of 250,000 jobs a
month. That’s a million jobs every four months, that’s 3 million jobs a
year, if sustained. And that’s certainly a major step forward compared to
the recovery pace that we’ve seen over the last two years.
PRATT: In February, the strongest hiring came in professional and
business services with 82,000 jobs. Still, more than half of those were at
temp agencies. Health care added 61,000 new jobs, restaurants and bars
hired 41,000 workers. And the manufacturing sector added 31,000 new
Naysayers don’t believe the current pace of job growth is sustainable.
They point to nasty prices at the pump and how they’re expected to hurt
economic growth. But, some experts predict the damage will be modest.
BRUCE KASMAN, CHIEF ECONOMIST, J.P. MORGAN: I think the question is
whether hiring will slow in response to that weakening growth number. We
think it will slow a little bit. But we’re hopeful that we’re going to
continue to hold somewhere close to 200,000 in payroll gains as we make our
way thought the rest of this year.
PRATT: And here’s an interesting twist on all those new jobs we’re
seeing. It’s encouraging people who stopped looking for work to go out and
pound the pavement again. But that new supply of job seekers is expected
to restrain the unemployment rate.
KASMAN: I think 200,000 payrolls gains which should normally bring
the unemployment rate down at a pretty healthy pace will leave the
unemployment rate probably no lower than 8 percent at the end of this year
if we’re right.
PRATT: In case you’re wondering when the unemployment rate falls to
let’s say 6 percent, experts say that’s a long way off. We’re talking at
least a few years if not longer. Suzanne Pratt, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, New York.