WASHINGTON (AP) -- One economist says the United States isn't just seeing more jobs created, it's seeing a better mix of jobs.
Ryan Sweet of Moody's Analytics is talking about the increase in higher-paying jobs in industries like accounting, engineering and information technology. They were among the 236,000 jobs added last month, reducing the U.S. unemployment rate to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent. That's the lowest rate in four years.
The gains were broad-based, led by the highest level of construction hiring in six years. Retailers added 24,000 jobs, a sign that they anticipate healthy consumer spending in the coming months.
The number of government jobs again declined, continuing the trend of nearly four years. Governments cut 10,000 jobs last month.
The increase in the higher-paying jobs is boosting average pay. And that will help offset the hit that Americans took from higher Social Security taxes and gas prices. Hourly wages rose an average of four cents last month. Over the past year, wages have risen 2.1 percent, slightly ahead of inflation.
176-a-08-(Alan Krueger, chairman, Council of Economic Advisers, in AP interview)-"as of February"-Council Of Economic Advisers Chairman Alan Krueger says the economy keeps getting better. (8 Mar 2013)
137-a-13-(Diane Swonk, chief economist, Mesirow (MEHZ'-ih-roh) Financial, in AP interview)-"activity out there"-Economist Diane Swonk of Mesirow Financial says the job growth seen in the data is not in the sectors expected to cut jobs when sequester spending cuts hit in the next few months. (8 Mar 2013)
135-a-08-(Diane Swonk, chief economist, Mesirow (MEHZ'-ih-roh) Financial, in AP interview)-"a solid report"-Economist Diane Swonk of Mesirow Financial says the unexpected surge in new jobs is good news, even though the revised number for January was slightly lower. (8 Mar 2013)
134-v-31-(David Melendy, AP correspondent)--The economy has surprised most economists with a bigger than expected jump in jobs last month. The AP's David Melendy has more. (8 Mar 2013)
APPHOTO GFX466: Graphic shows the national unemployment rate (8 Mar 2013)
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