Unemployment Drops to 7.7 Percent

Katie Pavlich

3/8/2013 8:31:00 AM - Katie Pavlich

Finally, some good news on the unemployment front. More from CNBC:

Job creation broke out in February, with the economy creating a net 236,000 new jobs as the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent.

Private job creation stood at a robust 246,000, finally indicating that the economy may be ready to escape the tight growth range in which it has been held since the financial crisis.

Service industries led the gains with 73,000 new jobs, while construction added 48,000 and health care provided 32,000.

Economists expected the economy created 160,000 jobs in February and the unemployment rate held steady at 7.9 percent.

But, there's also bad news. Lots of people still aren't looking for work or participating in the labor force.

The number of people not in the labor force, not seasonally adjusted, rose to 90.1 million in February, up from 89.9 million in January and 88.3 million in February 2012.

This news comes during the same week when the DOW has closed at record levels for three days in a row.

The Dow Jones industrial average jumped again Thursday, rewarding investors with a third-straight day of the benchmark index closing at a record high.

Positive news on the job front -- the number of people seeking unemployment benefits last week dropped to its lowest level since President Obama took office -- helped push the Dow higher Thursday. The index finished up 33.25 points to 14,329.49. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index closed up 2.80 points to 1,544.26 and is less than 20 points from its all-time closing high set on Oct. 9, 2007. On Thursday, the Nasdaq composite index ended up 9.72 points to 3,232.09.

The much-watched measure of the broad stock market has rocketed 9.4% this year. The Dow exceeded its previous all time high on Tuesday, taking out the previous high-water mark of 14,165 set on Oct. 9, 2007. But while the Dow is flying into record territory, it's coming into some pivotal news.