Unemployment rate falls to four-year low

WASHINGTON — The nation’s unemployment rate fell in February to a new four-year low of 7.7 percent as employers added a stronger-than-expected 236,000 jobs over the month, thanks in good part to the rebounding housing market.

The Labor Department said Friday that the new jobless rate, which declined from 7.9 percent in January, was the lowest since December 2008, when the unemployment figure was 7.3 percent.

Although some of the rate drop was the result of workers leaving the labor force, the improvement reflected solid job gains across a broad swath of industries. Growth was led by the construction sector, which added 48,000 jobs last month — the most in a single month since March 2007.

The strengthening housing market also gave a lift to other sectors: Employment in financial services benefited from the addition of nearly 9,000 new jobs at real estate and leasing offices. Furniture makers and retailers also bulked up, as did architectural and engineering services.

Health care businesses and restaurants continued to expand at a strong pace.

Government employment, on the other hand, dropped by 10,000 jobs, as state and local offices cut back. Federal payrolls were flat.

Many analysts are expecting the fiscal spending cuts under the so-called sequestration to slow job growth in the coming months, but there was little hint of that in Friday’s report.

January’s job growth number was revised lower, to 119,000 from 157,000 initially estimated. But most of that was offset by changes in December’s payrolls, which were revised up to 219,000 from 196,000 previously reported.

More in Herald Business Journal

New Everett hotel will double waterfront rooms in the county

Construction on Hotel Indigo at the Port of Everett’s new live-work-play development begins Thursday.

US on track for the longest expansion ever, but at a cost

Goldman Sachs: There’s 90% chance expansion will break the record set during the 1990s tech boom.

Washington unemployment rate at 4.8 percent

The largest job gains last month were in manufacturing retail trade and leisure and hospitality.

Road to homeownership gets rockier this spring as rates rise

First-time buyers face significant hurdles; starter homes have seen the steepest price increases.

Southwest Airlines sought more time for engine inspections

The airline opposed the engine manufacturer’s 2016 recommendation for timely fan blade inspections.

Trump may invoke Cold War era Defense Act to boost coal plants

He could nationalize industries to ensure the U.S. has the resources needed in a war or disaster.

Sound Publishing president departing to lead Tulsa newspaper

Gloria Fletcher, an Oklahoma native, has led The Daily Herald’s parent company since 2012.

FAA restricts Boeing 787s powered by some Rolls engines

The affected planes can fly no farther than 140 minutes from an airport, instead of the usual 330.

Amazon cuts a deal with Best Buy, broadens global reach

It will team up with Best Buy on a new smart TV and will offer goods to new areas of the world.

Most Read