WORST OVER?: The jobless rate held at 9.7 percent in February, and the economy lost a net 36,000 jobs, a better-than-expected showing. Some economists had predicted deeper job cuts due to severe snowstorms.
BETTER DAYS AHEAD: The report pointed to slow improvements. Some think the economy could start adding jobs steadily, starting with the report for March. But job creation isn't expected to be robust enough to quickly drive down the unemployment rate.
SLOW DIG: Economists think it could take until the middle of the decade for the rate to drop back to a normal 5.5 percent to 6 percent.