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Wall Street Likes February Jobs Numbers

BOSTON (CBS) - A burst of hiring last month propelled Wall Street higher on Friday.

The Labor Department says US employers added 236,000 jobs in February. That gain pushed the unemployment rate down to 7.7%, the lowest in 4 years.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Anthony Silva reports


"People were already on watch for a good report," says economic analyst Mark Hamrick, "but this came in even better than optimistic expectations."

Hamrick says growth is now being seen across the private sector, and it's expected to continue.

"The Federal Reserve has had the would-be pedal to the metal, keeping interest rates low and adding liquidity to the system through its monthly bond purchases. That's had a particularly beneficial impact on the housing market, which as we know had been in a coma for a few years."

Hamrick says the spike in gasoline prices over the past month is one of the negatives still tugging on the economy.

"We think gasoline prices, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, will have been up 14% over the past month. That's a pretty good wallop."

Hamrick says the other negative is the expiration of the payroll tax cut.

On the positive side, hiring has averaged more than 200,000 per month since November. Wages have increased, and job gains were broad-based.

"Consumers are bearing up pretty well, given everything they're facing," says Hamrick. He's looking for continued growth in the job market.

Construction hiring hit its best level in six years in February.

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