Unemployment Unchanged… but at Least It’s Not Bad News

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment remained unchanged, at 8.3% nationwide.  That can mean a number of things, good and bad.  If, for example, the number of people who count as unemployed goes down because so many gave up while number of jobs decreased, a stationary unemployment rate can be terrible.  On the other hand, if the labor force grew by a lot, than unemployment could actually rise and still convey a positive message.

This report appears to be neutral:

The number of unemployed persons, at 12.8 million, was essentially unchanged in February. The unemployment rate held at 8.3 percent, 0.8 percentage point below the August 2011 rate. …

Both the labor force and employment rose in February. The civilian labor force participation rate, at 63.9 percent, and the employment-population ratio, at 58.6 percent, edged up over the month.

The population grew by 166,000, and 310,000 more people entered the labor force, which therefore became 476,000.  Of that total, 428,000 were working.

Put in terms other than numbers, the report looks exactly like the unemployment rate indicates:  stagnation.