The news is better this month, in that 175,000 jobs were created in February, up from January’s 129,000 and December’s dismal 84,000. Economists had been predicting 152,000 new jobs. But the unemployment rate ticked up a notch to 6.7 percent because while the labor force increased, so did the number of unemployed. Partly that is because more people have started looking for jobs, which is a good sign.
The number of long-term unemployed, out of work for more than half a year, has increased by 203,000 to 3.8 million. That’s 37 percent of total unemployment. Teenage unemployment went up for the second straight month, to 21.4 percent. Black unemployment went down a notch, to a still distressing 12 percent.
Economic growth has been slowing. GDP was growing at an annual rate of 4.1 percent in last year’s third quarter, but was only at 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter. Some forecasters expect GDP in this year’s first quarter (which ends March 31st) to be perhaps as little as 1.5 percent. If that turns out to be true and the trend continues, future jobs reports will not look good.