Last month, the national unemployment rate was unchanged at its rate of 9.7% in January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That beat consensus expectations, which expected a slight rise to 9.8%. The U.S. lost 36,000 jobs in February, 32,000 fewer than the 68,000 economists expected. This was, however, a little worse than January when the U.S. only lost 26,000 jobs (revised up from 20,000). This month's additional jobs lost increased the total number of unemployed slightly to 14.9 million Americans. Let's dig into the numbers.
Here's some historical unemployment rate movement, via BLS:
And the number of jobs lost/gained:
As you can see, the increase in lost jobs is a very slight one. Again, this appears to indicate some stability is taking hold, which should bring actual job growth soon.
One strange thing about February was the weather. Snow may have affected hiring. Here's what BLS says about the way the weather may have skewed the statistics:
In the household survey, the reference period was the calendar week of February 7-13. People who miss work for weather-related events are counted as employed whether or not they are paid for the time off.
This appears to indicate that the weather shouldn't have had much effect. If anything, I think it could have delayed some hiring. But temporary jobs were also created by the weather for the snow removal. So it's hard to say just how large an effect the weather might have had, but I don't believe it could have been that significant.