Most estimates in advance of today's new jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggested the economy added about 210,000 jobs in February. As it turns out, we did even better than that.
The U.S. economy added 227,000 jobs last month, while the overall unemployment rate remained steady at 8.3%. At first blush, that may sound discouraging, but the details matter -- the jobless rate remained the same, despite the increase, because "more people entered the workforce in search of jobs."
And that's what we want -- it's evidence of a healthier economy.
As is always the case, there was a gap between the private and public sectors. Businesses added 233,000 jobs last month, while budget cuts forced the public sector to shed another 6,000 jobs.
Nevertheless, it's hard not to feel encouraged about the recent data. Indeed, perhaps the most striking aspect to today's report were the revisions: job totals from December showed an additional 20,000 jobs (from 203,000 to 223,000), while January added an additional 41,000 (from 243,000 to 284,000).
The result is good news: excluding temporary Census Bureau jobs, the last three months have been the best for American job creation since the start of the Great Recession.
The overall economy has now added over 1.2 million jobs in just the last six months, and nearly 3.4 million jobs over the last three years.
And with that, here's the homemade chart I run on the first Friday of every month, showing monthly job losses since the start of the Great Recession. The image makes a distinction -- red columns point to monthly job totals under the Bush administration, while blue columns point to job totals under the Obama administration.
Update: Here's another chart, this one showing monthly job losses/gains in just the private sector since the start of the Great Recession.