US adds more jobs, and more higher-paying jobs

employment economy
Posted at 5:05 PM, Mar 08, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-08 17:05:00-05

WASHINGTON (AP) — One economist says the United States isn't just seeing more jobs created, it's seeing a better mix of jobs.

Ryan Sweet of Moody's Analytics is talking about the increase in higher-paying jobs in industries like accounting, engineering and information technology. They were among the 236,000 jobs added last month, reducing the U.S. unemployment rate to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent. That's the lowest rate in four years.

The gains were broad-based, led by the highest level of construction hiring in six years. Retailers added 24,000 jobs, a sign that they anticipate healthy consumer spending in the coming months.

The number of government jobs again declined, continuing the trend of nearly four years. Governments cut 10,000 jobs last month.

The increase in the higher-paying jobs is boosting average pay. And that will help offset the hit that Americans took from higher Social Security taxes and gas prices. Hourly wages rose an average of four cents last month. Over the past year, wages have risen 2.1 percent, slightly ahead of inflation.