Nightly News   |  March 09, 2012

Jobs report shows growth among private businesses

Consumers are expressing more optimism but rising gas prices could inhibit the economic recovery and millions remain unemployed or underemployed. NBC’s Anne Thompson reports.

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>>> good evening and we don't get to say this very often, but the new employment numbers that came out today were better than expected. u.s. employers added 227,000 jobs in february to complete three of the best months of hiring since the start of the recession. it means unemployment was unchanged, holdy steady now at 8.3%, deciphering what this means, whether this makes a trend is something else entirely. the big wild card , of course, continues to be what we're paying for gas because that affects everything else. we want to begin our reporting on this friday night with nbc's ann thompson.

>> the encouraging trend is you powered by computer businesses across the country. manufacturers, 31,000. restaurants and bars, 41,000 and temporary help services, 45,000.

>> hi, i'm will.

>> enticing more americans to look for work.

>> are american businesses becoming more confident?

>> yes, that does seem to be happening, both businesses and consumers are expressing greater optimism that some of the worst is behind us and this recovery is on stronger legs.

>> adam lapsovich is very positive.

>> i'm comfortable with spending money because we have the money coming in which is a nice thing.

>> like almost half of small businesses , his video business saw growth in the past year. he bought furniture, hired contractors and two full-time workers.

>> i still need more people.

>> what are the potholes in the road to recovery?

>> the biggest pothole we're focused on is rising gas prices . wages aren't very strong and so consumers can't bear the higher gas prices and they have to cut back on other things and that could lead to a slow patch in the economy.

>> there's also the debt crisis in europe and other problems here at home. while job prospects are improving, the government reports 23.5 million americans are still out of work or underemployed.

>> hello.

>> mallika morel, a 27-year-old mom went to a new york city job fairhoping to end her year and a half search for work.

>> at first i was nervous, but i'm more optimistic because there are a variety of different employers here so i kind of have hope.

>> regaining confidence is the american recovery gained some momentum. ann thompson, nbc news, new york.