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Macro Pulse highlights recent activity and events expected to affect the U.S. economy over the next 24 months. While the review is of the entire U.S. economy its particular focus is on developments affecting the Forest Products industry. Everyone with a stake in any level of the sector can benefit from
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Friday, March 4, 2011

February 2011 Employment Report

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The U.S. economy added 192,000 nonfarm jobs in February, and the unemployment rate ticked down by 0.1 percentage point to 8.9 percent (the lowest rate since April 2009). February’s job-creation rate was much more robust than January’s upwardly revised figure of 63,000 (originally 36,000). We are also encouraged to see that 304,000 persons found full-time work, thereby reducing the rolls of part-timers by 67,000.
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Despite the upturn in employment, the chart above shows how much ground remains to be regained. That chart tells just part of the story, however, because returning to “zero” means only that the number of persons employed is equal to the peak of December 2007; it does not include the 150,000 persons of employable age added by population growth each month.
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As has happened for the past several months, the unemployment rate dropped primarily because of the number of people who gave up looking for work and thus were no longer considered officially unemployed. I.e., the improvement occurred not because of a wholesale jump in hiring, but rather because so many people dropped out of the system. A near-record 6.4 million people were not counted as being in the labor force, but would like a job now. Also, the total number of persons not considered part of the labor force jumped to a record high of 86.2 million.

Another discouraging aspect of the report included a civilian labor force participation rate that remained unchanged at 64.2 percent (a 27-year low).

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