By Joan Gralla

(Reuters) - A New York City fiscal watchdog on Thursday brightened its outlook for the city's economy in coming years, even as data showed the local job market worsened in February.

The Independent Budget Office now expects a total of 435,000 workers to be hired from 2011 to 2016 - 172,500 more than previously - mainly in education, health care, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and trade.

However, the city's unemployment rate in February rose three-tenths of a percentage point to 9.6 percent from January, the state Department of Labor said in a report, even as it added 28,900 jobs for the month.

That is eight-tenths of a percentage point above the year-ago level of 8.8 percent.

New York state's unemployment rate rose two-tenths of a percentage point to 8.5 percent in February from January. That is four-tenths of a percentage point above the year-ago rate of 8.1 percent.

Wall Street shed 2,200 jobs in February, shrinking the total workforce to 688,400 people, according to the state labor data. Still, the workforce is 1.9 percent larger than a year-ago.

The much bigger professional and business services sector, which includes law, computer and advertising firms, for example, added 13,000 jobs in February and is up 5 percent over a year-ago, according to the state labor data.

The Independent Budget Office's report said tax revenue for New York City, whose economy rests on Wall Street's shoulders, will rise 4.3 percent in the current fiscal year, "not nearly the pace of double-digit gains during 2004 to 2007 after the previous downturn."

If Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed $1 billion of cuts are approved for next year's budget, and the city gets $1 billion by selling taxi medallions, fiscal 2013 could have a $544 million surplus, the report said. But a $2.2 billion shortfall is forecast for 2014.

(Reporting By Joan Gralla; Editing by Kim Coghill)


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