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Reactions to jobless rate report mostly upbeat

WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy turned in its best performance in February since the start of the Great Recession in December 2007, as evidence piles up that the recovery is strengthening, deepening and gaining solid footing. Friday's report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics underscored that. It showed the nation's unemployment rate dipped to 8.9 percent last month as employers added an impressive 192,000 jobs across a broad range of industries. That was the third consecutive monthly drop in the jobless rate, and at an impressively sharp pace. Florida's next jobs update comes out Thursday. The state's last report had unemployment at 12 percent. Much of the reaction to Friday's national jobs news was cautiously upbeat.

What some experts are saying

“This is a very strong report, strongly arguing that the job market is gaining traction. The job gains were broad-based across industries, including the higher-paying manufacturing, transportation and professional services industries." Mark Zandi, chief economist for forecaster Moody's Analytics.

• • •

"The economy has been clawing its way back up the side of the mountain for the better part of a year, and these numbers are consistent with that. Where we are is the process of natural healing of our economy." Paul O'Neill, special adviser to the New York-based Blackstone Group LP and a former treasury secretary.

• • •

"The labor market is starting to dig out of its deep hole, but job creation is not yet strong enough to draw many previously discouraged workers back." Sophia Koropeckyj, Moody's Economy.com.

• • •

"The last piston in the economic engine has begun to fire, pointing to sustaining economic growth. The job market has passed through the inflexion point. Recent economic reports, both production and spending, are supportive of accelerating economic momentum. … The Achilles' heel of the economy is the state and local government. It continues to lay off people, bowing to budget pressure." Sung Won Sohn, Smith School of Business and Economics.

• • •

"Things have turned so quickly for skilled and educated professionals, most candidates are getting multiple offers, and most are involved in a counter-offer situation. … The dark and gloomy days of the highly skilled, highly educated professional … are pretty much over for a number of these folks. … The days of cost-cutting and process improvement are kind of over. Fritz Eichelberger, CEO of Tampa executive recruitment firm HotSpaces.

• • •

"So if the new normal was slow growing employment, the new new normal is a slow growing labour force. … Perhaps America is now experiencing an echo of what older Europe and Japan already have: a demographically driven slowdown in potential growth. Or perhaps it's one of those temporary statistical mysteries that will disappear soon." Economist magazine

• • •

"The best part of this morning's jobs report may be the hints that the government is understating actual job growth. As we've noted before, the Labor Department's monthly estimate of employment changes is often too pessimistic in the early stages of a recovery (and too optimistic in the early stages of a downturn). The department tends to underestimate how many new businesses are starting as the economy picks up." David Leonhardt, New York Times columnist

• • •

"The underlying details point to further misery for the U.S. consumer. Income growth slowed and hours worked failed to pick up, signaling that although labour demand has gathered pace, we are still very far from having a tight labour market." David Semmens, Standard Chartered Bank.

Compiled from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Bloomberg News, McClatchy Newspapers and other Times wires.

Reactions to jobless rate report mostly upbeat 03/04/11 [Last modified: Friday, March 4, 2011 9:38pm]
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