WASHINGTON – Unemployment rates fell in more than 80 percent of large U.S. cities in February from January, suggesting that strong hiring that month benefited the vast majority of the country.
The Labor Department says rates fell in 311 of the nation's 372 largest metro areas. They rose in 45 and were unchanged in 16.
Nationwide, employers added 268,000 jobs in February, the most in a year. That pushed down the unemployment rate to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent. But hiring slowed sharply last month, when employers added only 88,000 jobs.
Unlike the national unemployment figures, the metro data aren't adjusted for seasonal factors, such as the layoff of temporary retail employees after the winter holidays. That can make the data volatile from month to month.