A new Labor Department report provided some encouraging news for the overall U.S. population while the unemployment rate for African-Americans remain over 13 percent.
The February jobs report issued Friday showed a boost in hiring added 236,000 jobs and reduced the unemployment rate to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent in January.
However the unemployment rate for African-Americans remains the same for both February and January at 13.8 percent. In the February 2012, the unemployment rate for Blacks was 14.1 percent.
The U.S. unemployment rate is now at its lowest level in four years. Jobs gains were also broad-based, led by construction hiring in six years.
Wages also increased. Hourly wages rose 4 cents to $23.82 in February.
The unemployment rate declined mostly because more people found work. Also, 130,000 people without jobs stopped looking for work, which are not counted by the government as unemployed.
For critics who argue for more cuts by the government when it comes to jobs that is already occurring. In February, the government cut 10,000 jobs.
The number of jobs added would have been higher if federal, state and local governments were adding their long-term combined average of 20,000 to 25,000 jobs a month.
Hiring was spurred by a boost in auto sales and steady housing recovery. Economists say this could trigger more consumer spending and stronger economic growth in the future. Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the economy.
Increased consumer spending was a factor in retailers adding 24,000 jobs. Education and health services also gained 24,000 jobs.
Another encouraging sign in the jobs report was that it showed more higher-paying jobs in industries like accounting, engineering and information technology.
While the report showed stronger job growth it will need to be even stronger in the months and years to come to return the economy to where it was before the recession.
(Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune)