U.S. employers added 192,000 workers in February and the unemployment rate declined to 8.9 percent -- the lowest level since April 2009. The illustration above puts those monthly figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) into perspective.
Analysts are worried jobs aren't being created fast enough. Jill Schlesinger, editor at large at CBS/MoneyWatch, said only about 127,500 jobs have been created on average for the first two months of the year. That's only slightly higher than what's needed to keep pace with new workers entering the job market, she said.
Private employers created 222,000 jobs last month. But 30,000 government workers were laid off. Economists were expecting state and local governments to trim their payrolls, and hoping the private sector would take up the slack.
Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial, said cuts to government jobs at the state and local level could hurt the economy's long-term recovery.
"Call it three-steps-forward, one-step-back," Low said. "We lost 30,000 jobs at the state and local level. I expect we're going to see similar losses going forward."
Nearly 14 million Americans were counted as out of work. But there are another 2.7 million not included in the department's survey are "discouraged" or stopped looking for a job in the past four weeks.
This illustration breaks down the total civilian non-institutional population (described as eligible workers that aren't in the military or in prison/institutions) -- of which there are 238.9 million in the U.S. -- by those who are employed, unemployed, or not counted in the active labor force (like students, stay-at-home parents and retirees).
Here is a breakdown of the February 2011 job numbers as reported by the department's BLS:
- 238.9 million - Civilian non-institutional Population
- 153.2 million - Active Labor Force
- 139.6 million - Employed (full- or part-time)
- 13.7 million - Unemployed
- 85.6 million - Not active in labor force (2.7 million of which aren't looking for work.)