NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.7% in February, while the broadest measure of joblessness increased in January. More workers took part-time jobs to make ends meet, and the unemployed stopped looking for work out of discouragement.Severe February weather that closed businesses and a delay in the reporting of job cuts may have played a role in the jobless numbers but, either way, until companies hire, economic growth will be restrained. The prospect of a "jobless recovery" is disconcerting. The result could be a fragile economy if strong employment and consumer spending don't play a role. Bloated payrolls before the recession and recent lean times have led to greater efficiency in lieu of hiring.