US Businesses Sharply Boosting Employment

Posted March 9th, 2012 at 11:45 am (UTC-5)
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Businesses in the United States boosted payrolls more than forecast in February, while the jobless rate remained unchanged from January's 8.3 percent.

In its closely watched monthly report, the U.S. Labor Department said Friday that employers hired 227,000 new workers last month. In addition, the report revised upward the number of people hired in January to 284,000.

Until February, the jobless rate had fallen for five straight months in the United States — an indication that the world's largest economy is steadily recovering from the severe economic downturn that was the country's worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

As hiring has increased in recent months, the government said more jobless workers started looking for employment again in February. That left last month's unemployment rate unchanged.

The government said the job growth was broad-based, and included both higher-paying and lower-paying jobs. Professional and business services, health care, and the leisure and hospitality industries added the biggest number of jobs.

The chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, Alan Krueger, cited the February employment report as evidence that the U.S. economy “is continuing to heal.”

Job growth in the last six months in the United States has been the highest since 2006, two years before the recession hit the American and regional economies across the globe. In all, about 1.2 million jobs have been added during that half-year span.

The economy has played a dominant role in the country's presidential election campaign. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, is seeking a second four-year term in next November's national election, but the 8.3 percent jobless rate is the same as in February 2009, his first full month in office. It remains well above the country's typical 5 percent figure.

The president's chief Republican opponents — one-time venture capitalist Mitt Romney, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich — have all sharply criticized his handling of the economy, and say they could boost job creation at a faster pace.

In another, more negative report Friday, the government said the country's trade deficit widened sharply in January. The U.S. said it imported $52.6 billion worth of products more than it exported. The country's exports increased by more than 1 percent during the month, but imports jumped by more than 2 percent.