Unemployment Holds at 9.7 Percent, Economy Gains 162,000 Jobs

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Still screwing with our heads.
Still screwing with our heads. Photo: NASA's flickr

The disastrous snowstorms that wracked the East Coast during the month of February may have deflated the job numbers that month, but not as much as expected. That month employment held at 9.7 percent, and this month it remained at the same rate, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's statistics released this morning. But in slightly better news, the American economy actually added 162,000 jobs, the first significant growth we've seen in many months. The outlook is still a bit hazy, as 48,000 new jobs were created this month by the government when it began hiring census workers. And additional new job creations may have been held over from February, when the weather put many projects on hold. Other indicators — lukewarm consumer spending, state and local governments facing deficits and payroll cutbacks — are still not looking so hot. But according to the Times, experts say these employment figures make room for a teeny bit of cautious optimism. "We have had this massive disaster, but we're at a place now where things are stabilizing," the Economic Policy Institute's Heidi Shierholz told the paper. "But it's nowhere near the level of growth we need to start moving the dial."

U.S. Adds 162,000 Jobs in March; Rate Remains 9.7% [NYT]