Economy gaining momentum with job growth

In this March 1, 2011 photo, Mariam Bario, recently relocated to Seattle from Kenya, fills out an application with others at a job fair, in SeaTac, Wash. Employers in February hired at the fastest pace in almost a year and the unemployment rate fell to 8.9 percent _ a nearly two-year low. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

It's not unusual for the American Heritage Credit Union in Philadelphia to get 500 resumes for a job posting, reports CBS News senior business correspondent Anthony Mason.

But with business growing, the company is hiring: tellers, assistant managers and a vice president.

"We potentially could bring in 38 new positions by the end of the year," said Flora Caranac with American Heritage.

Jobs report: March springs back

Economist Ellen Zentner said when you base it off the last three months of data, it looks like the economy is getting some momentum on job growth.

"We've had the unemployment rate drop a full percentage point very quickly over just four months and that's nearly unprecedented," Zentner said.

In February, employment increased in 35 states. The biggest overall growth coming in California, Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas and Illinois.

But more than 6 million Americans have been unemployed now for six months or more, like Marianne Gannon, a former sales manager with Mastercard. She's joined a job search group in Westchester County, New York.

Gannon, who has been out of work for 15 months, thinks there's a bias against people who have been out of work for a long time.

"I applied one night to a particular company on their website," Gannon said. "And two and a half minutes later I got an email saying 'Thank you very much. We've reviewed your application and resume and we do not feel it is a fit.'"

On job web sites we found repeated postings for sales and management positions that required applicants to be "currently employed." CBS contacted four firms for an explanation but none replied.

"Even friends or neighbors or whatever around here - they're like, 'you're still out of work?' It's like what don't you understand? The job market stinks," Gannon said.

In a new study by UCLA and the State University of New York at Stony Brook, researchers found clear evidence of bias towards unemployed workers, who the report says are often stigmatized even when they've voluntarily left a position.

  • Anthony Mason

    CBS News senior business and economics correspondent; Co-host, "CBS This Morning: Saturday"