U.S. employers cut a smaller than expected 36,000 jobs in February, leaving the unemployment rate unchanged at 9.7 percent, according to a government report on Friday which said it was unclear how severe weather had impacted payrolls.
The Labor Department said job losses for December and January had been revised to show 35,000 fewer jobs lost than previously reported.
Analysts polled by Reuters had expected non-farm payrolls to drop 50,000 last month and the unemployment rate to edge up to 9.8 percent. The median forecast from the 20 most accurate forecasters also saw payrolls falling by 50,000, while the 10 most accurate economists predicted a 70,000 decline.
The unemployment rate is steady at 9.7%. The number of hours worked increased slightly along with wages. Equities have taken positively to the news. The Dow is up about 55 points in pre trading. The NASDAQ and S&P are up similarly. Bonds haven't taken kindly to the news and the ten year is up five basis points to 3.66% after the report.
Still, while this is better than expected, the jobs picture is still brutal. It's been more than a year since the stimulus was passed and we're still hemorrhaging jobs. Furthermore, the last six months haven't shown any clear pattern. The economy has lost more than three million jobs just since Obama has taken over and we're still nowhere near the end.