The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.7% in February 2013, the lowest rate since December 2008.  The economy added 236,000 jobs which were up from the 119,000 jobs that were added in January.

The 7.7% unemployment rate correlates to 12 million workers who are unemployed.  The drop from January 2013 is a combination of factors.  More people got jobs, yes, but like every other month, people drop out of the workforce for a variety of reasons.  Retirement and death are the two main factors.  The number who dropped out of the force in February was 130,000.

The drop in unemployment and the jobs increase were both more than expected.  One of the major bright spots which could be a signal that the economy is really ready to take off was that the construction industry added 48,000 jobs.  This is good news, because it means that not only are consumers feeling confident enough to purchase a home, but that banks are actually lending the money to do so.  For the record, 151,000 jobs have been added by the construction industry in the last five months.

According to an article posted on money.cnn.com, the construction industry has been the sector that has yet to truly recover.  A whopping 8.8 million jobs were lost during the financial crisis, so the increase above is but a fraction of what would be needed to return the industry to where it was.

All of the numbers above represent good news, but like so much of the economic news of the past year or so, it is tampered with the reality that all of this is taking a very long time, and has such a very long way to go.