U.S. unemployment rate falls to 7.7 pct in February

Washington, Mar 8 (EFE).- The U.S. unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percent in February to 7.7 percent, as 236,000 net jobs were created, the Labor Department said Friday.

Economists had been expecting the creation of just 157,000 net jobs and forecast that the jobless rate would remain unchanged at 7.9 percent.

The February jobless figure was the lowest since President Barack Obama took office in 2009 amid a severe economic crisis, while net job creation last month was the highest since last November.

The private sector led the way by creating 246,000 jobs, more than offsetting the loss of 10,000 jobs in the public sector.

The U.S. economy has created an average of 191,000 jobs over the past three months.

Average hourly earnings rose 0.2 percent to $23.82, while the length of the average work week in the private sector was 34.5 hours.

In February, the number of long-term jobless remained unchanged at 4.8 million, while 2.6 million people were not included in the unemployment tally because they have not sought work in more than four weeks.

The department's broader U6 unemployment rate, which includes part-time workers who would prefer full-time jobs and people who have given up looking, came in at 14.3 percent in February.