Economy adds 227,000 jobs, but unemployment rate holds at 8.3 percent

The economy added 227,000 jobs in February as the unemployment rate held at 8.3 percent. 

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The number is slightly better than expected and represents the third straight month the economy added more than 200,000 jobs. That's good news for President Obama, who has seen his reelection chances improve with the better labor market.

The report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics also revised figures for December and January up from 203,000 to 223,000, and from 243,00 to 284,000, respectively.

The surge in job growth underlines hopes that the economic recovery is growing stronger. 

Obama will visit a Rolls-Royce plant in Virginia on Friday, where he is expected to comment on the jobs figures.

Alan Krueger, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said the report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to heal.

"It is critical that we continue the economic policies that are helping us dig our way out of the deep hole," Krueger said.

He cautioned that because the unemployment numbers can be volatile "it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report."

"Nevertheless, the trend in job market indicators over recent months is an encouraging sign," he said.

The House on Thursday approved a new bipartisan jobs measure backed by House Majorit Leader Eric Cantor (Va.). Obama has endorsed the measure, which now goes to the Senate. 

"This is a welcome sign that we can put aside our differences and come together to produce results and create a thriving economy," Cantor said in a Friday statement reacting to the numbers. He urged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to "act quickly and send this bill to the president."

Private-sector employment grew by 233,000, with job gains in professional and business services, health care and social assistance, leisure and hospitality, manufacturing and mining.

Manufacturing saw employment increase by 31,000 in February, the third straight month of job growth for the sector.

Employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 44,000, but nearly all of the increase—41,000—came in food services and bars. 

About 12.8 million people remain unemployed, including 5.5 million who have been unemployed for at least six months.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) urged Senate Democrats to pick up the House jobs bill in a statement reacting to the new report. 

“Three years of ‘stimulus’ spending, tax hikes, and excessive government regulations have left us with unemployment that has remained above eight percent for 37 consecutive months, and Americans are increasingly worried about the amount of debt owed to countries like China," Boehner said. "Meanwhile, gas prices have nearly doubled as the Obama administration has rejected new energy production, blocked and lobbied against projects like the Keystone XL pipeline, and promoted policies that would drive prices up even further.

"Senate Democrats should take immediate action on the JOBS Act, and the rest of our jobs plan, so we can stop government policies that are adding to our debt, raising gas prices, and preventing robust private-sector job growth,” Boehner said.

This story was last updated at 10:14 a.m.