The labor-market recovery continues and is now a brisk walk and maybe even a slow trot instead of a shuffle. Job growth exceeded expectations with 233,000 private jobs created and with upwards revisions of 60,000 jobs. The unemployment rate remained flat even as the labor force had a large expansion. The January jobs report had the labor-force-participation rate at a thirty-year low. This report had a bounce back with 476,000 additions to the labor force, and job creation was robust enough to keep the unemployment rate flat. We want to see the participation rate tick up some more as labor force drop-outs come back into the labor market.
Almost every other sign in the labor report was positive, with an uptick in hours worked per week for nonsupervisory workers, a decline in the mean and median duration of unemployment, and a spike in hiring temporary workers. These are measures that indicate that the labor market is losing some of its sluggishness.
This is a solid jobs report, but at this stage of a recovery we should be seeing better economic news. Job growth needs to be over 300,000 per month to get close to full employment by 2014.