Washington, DC – The national unemployment rate fell to 8.9 percent last month, the lowest it has been in nearly two years.
192,000 jobs were added in February, compared to 63,000 added in January. The areas of the private sector adding the most jobs included manufacturing, construction and professional services.
Republican Congressman Dan Lungren, who represents Calaveras County, says it is too early to tell if this is a sign that the economy is turning around.
“To be honest, we need 200-300 thousand (new jobs) a month sustained over a couple of years, just to get us back to a reasonable level,” says Lungren. “If this drop in unemployment rate is largely a reflection of a drop in the number of people actually seeking employment, then that is bad news.”
Lungren is referring to the fact that the “working age” population currently in the labor force dropped to 64.2 percent last month, the lowest it has been in 25 years. The labor force is the group of people either currently employed or actively seeking work. He indicates that some people may be choosing to wait for the economy to turnaround before re-entering the job market.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told lawmakers this week that there is evidence that a self sustaining recovery could be taking hold. Today, a member of President Obama’s Administration called the new unemployment figures “encouraging.”
California’s unemployment rate is higher than the national average, at 12.3 percent.