By Ben Fractenberg
MANHATTAN — There was some good news for the beleaguered U.S. job market Friday as unemployment fell below 9 percent for the first time in almost two years, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
The jobless rate now stands at 8.9 percent after job gains in manufacturing, construction, professional and business services, health care, and transportation and warehousing, the report said.
Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 192,000 in February, driving the increase.
"We do see some grounds for optimism about the job market over the next few quarters, including notable declines in the unemployment rate in December and January, a drop in new claims for unemployment insurance and an improvement in firms' hiring plans," Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was quoted as saying in The Wall Street Journal Friday.
The economic recovery is still moving slowly, though, despite the gains. The Federal Reserve expects the unemployment rate to be within 7.5 percent to 8 percent at the end of 2012, The Journal reported.