The Unemployment Rate decreased to 8.9% in February, the lowest level since April 2009, against expectations of an increase to 9.1%, after decreasing to 9.0% in January. The number of unemployed persons decreased by190,000 to 13.7 million during the month. Nonfarm Payrolls, increased by 192,000, matching expectations, after increasing by 63,000 in January and by 152,000 in December. Private sector employment increased by 222,000, up from 68,000 in January. The services sector continued to expand in February with professional and business services adding 47,000 jobs. Healthcare employment continued to rise, with a gain of 34,000 while the manufacturing sector added 33,000 jobs. Construction employment also grew by 33,000, following a decline of 22,000 in January that may have been caused by acute winter weather conditions. Transportation and warehousing employment increased by 22,000, with half of the increase coming from gains in truck transportation. Employment in the retail trade dipped by 8,100, while government employment declined by 30,000 in February, reflecting cuts at the state and local level. The Average Workweek was unchanged at 34.2 hours. Average Hourly Earnings increased by 1 cent to $22.87.
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