U.S. Adds 236,000 Jobs, Unemployment Rate Falls

WASHINGTON (March 8, 2013)--U.S. employers ramped up hiring in February, adding 236,000 jobs and pushing the unemployment rate down to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent in January, the government reported Friday.

Stronger hiring shows businesses are confident about the economy, despite higher taxes and government spending cuts.

The government's February employment report was filled with mostly encouraging details.

The unemployment rate is now at the lowest level in four years.

Hiring has averaged more than 200,000 per month since November, wages have increased, and the job gains were broad-based, led by the best construction hiring in six years.

One negative is that employers added fewer jobs in January than first estimated.

Job gains were lowered to 119,000 from an initially reported 157,000, but December hiring was still a little better than first thought, with 219,000 jobs added instead of 196,000.

U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan, said the increase in job creation is good news, but said the president promised a faster recovery.

“With the president’s sequester being implemented, the tax increases that were imposed in January and the implementation of Obamacare; our economy remains vulnerable due to these poor economic policies,” he said.

“In order to create an environment that creates jobs and improves our economy we must reduce out-of-control federal spending with responsible cuts and substantive reforms,” he said.

The White House called the report evidence the economic recovery is “gaining traction,” but White House economist Alan Krueger noted in a statement Friday that the new unemployment rate was measured before $85 billion in automatic budget cuts started taking effect.

The administration has warned that the cuts could have a negative impact on employment and economic growth.

Krueger said the administration is urging Congress to move toward a "sustainable federal budget" by closing tax loopholes, enacting entitlement reforms and cutting spending.

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