Washington — The country's unemployment rate held at 4.2 percent in February and more new jobs were added signs that had some analysts wondering if the worst of the economic slowdown was over.
The Labor Department reported Friday that 135,000 workers were added to total payrolls in February. That was down from 224,000 the previous month but better than expected.
Much of the job gains came from service industries. Construction companies, transportation businesses and utilities also added workers.
But manufacturers shed 94,000 workers last month, bringing the total loss of factory jobs to 371,000 since June. Losses were widespread, with the exception of automobile workers returning from temporary layoffs.
The unemployment rate had dropped to a 30-year low of 3.9 percent during three months in 2000. But with the slowdown, economists are expecting the rate to rise in coming months, peaking around 4.5 percent.