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Unemployment Rate Hits 2-Year Low

The US Labor Department announced that March 2011 unemployment numbers dipped to 8.8% with the addition of 216,000 jobs, exceeding the expected 190,000. The unemployment rate in February was 8.9%, and the rate decreased by a full percentage point over the last four months, the sharpest drop since 1983. While March rates for California are not yet available, the February unemployment was a staggering 12.2%.

Year to year average earnings, however, were up only 1.7% for the second straight month, which lags behind inflation rates. The average duration of unemployment rose to 39 weeks, the longest since 1948.

Factories (17,000), retailers (18,000), financial services (6,000), education and health services (45,000), and leisure/hospitality (37,000) contributed a significant number of jobs. Other economies suffered layoffs, especially in local governments, construction, transportation and warehousing, and information services.