First the good news: The nation added 236,000 jobs in February, and the U.S. jobless rate dropped to 7.7%  – its lowest level in four years.
Now the bad news: The labor market remains soft, and the decline was due in part to discouraged people who gave up actively looking for work.
Analyst John Quinterno with Chapel Hill-based South by North Strategies  notes that for those who continue to look for full-time work, the jobs remain scarce.
- Last month, the underemployment rate equaled 14.3 percent.
- Among unemployed workers, 40.2 percent had been jobless for at least six, and the average spell of unemployment was 36.9 weeks.
- The leading cause of unemployment remained a job loss or the completion of a temporary job.
- Unemployment rates were higher among Black (13.8 percent) and Hispanic workers (9.6 percent) than among White ones (6.8 percent).
- The unemployment rate among teenagers was 25.1 percent.
“Over the last 14 months, the American economy has gained 2.5 million more payroll positions that it has lost,” explained Quinterno. “The current average monthly rate of job growth—some 182,000 positions per month—nevertheless is insufficient to fill the sizable jobs gap caused by the most recent recession.”
North Carolina’s state unemployment rate for January will be released March 18th.