As usual, the Labor Department revised its earlier numbers. Payroll numbers for December were revised upward by 23,000 jobs, to 219,000 from 196,000. But that gain was offset by a 38,000-job decline in January, from 157,000 to 119,000.
Some statistics were positive: The number of people working part time because they made that choice grew at a greater rate than the number of people forced to work part time because there were no full-time jobs or because business was slack. The number of unemployed people dropped to 12 million, from 12.3 million in January and 12.8 million a year ago.
But amid the positive numbers were some disturbing trends. The size of the labor force declined, even as the working-age population grew, perhaps signaling underlying uneasiness with the job market.
The median length of unemployment - meaning the time it takes the majority of people to find jobs - increased dramatically from 16 weeks to 17.8 weeks over the month, even though it is down from the 20.1-week median of February 2012.
Also lengthening is the average amount of time that people are unemployed - a statistic affected by the number of long-term unemployed. The average length of unemployment is now 36.9 weeks, up from 35.3 in February, but down from 39.9 a year ago.
"The long-term unemployed are being discriminated against," said James John, chief operating officer of King of Prussia-based Beyond.com, an operator of hundreds of job boards in various industries and regions.
"People are hiring now, but they are incredibly picky," he said.
Job postings are up 14 percent from January to February and up 75 percent over the year, John said, all indicating a desire to hire.
Contact Jane M. Von Bergen at firstname.lastname@example.org, @JaneVonBergen on Twitter, or at 215-854-2769. Read her workplace blog at www.philly.com/jobbing