U.S. Sheds 36,000 Jobs, Unemployment Steady at 9.7%

Number of unemployed is 14.9 million

In a better-than-expected report on March 5 that may be skewed by adverse winter weather, the U.S. shed 36,000 jobs in February.

The unemployment rate held at 9.7%.

The Labor Department said that payroll employment was "little changed" from January, noting job losses in construction and information.

"Severe winter weather in parts of the country may have affected payroll employment and hours; however, it is not possible to quantify precisely the net impact of the winter storms on these measures," the department said.

The government revised higher the job losses in January to 26,000 from 20,000 and maintained the unemployment rate at 9.7%

The total number of unemployed was essentially unchanged at 14.9 million.

Though the economy posted growth in the second half of 2009, snapping a year of contraction, economists say the ailing labor market poses a major challenge to a sustainable recovery from the worst recession in decades.

Most of the growth has been due to government spending and the Fed's near-zero interest rates.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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