NEW YORK (AP) ¿ A better-than-expected employment report Friday boosted shares of job sites like Monster Worldwide and staffing companies such as Manpower.

The Labor Department said the unemployment rate in February was 9.7 percent, unchanged from January. Meanwhile, employers cut 36,000 jobs, more than the 26,000 jobs lost in January.

Yet economists polled by Thomson Reuters expected unemployment to tick up slightly, in part because of major storms in the East, and that employers would cut 50,000 jobs.

"The February employment report is very encouraging," Moody's Economy.com economists Aaron Smith and Ryan Smith wrote in a research note. They predicted jobs growth in March.

Private employers shed 18,000 jobs last month, the government said. But the service sector, which makes up more than 80 percent of all U.S. jobs, added 42,000 jobs.

The service sector includes financial services, shops and restaurants, health care, consulting, tourism and education, among other industries.

However, many of last month's job gains came from the 47,500 temporary jobs added in February. That may signal that confidence in an economic recovery is growing.

The hiring of full-time workers has historically followed a rise in temporary jobs.

Shares of Monster Worldwide Inc. rose 70 cents, or 4.6 percent, to $15.80, and Manpower Inc. shares gained $2.05, or 3.8 percent, to $55.75 in morning trading.

Shares of staffing companies Robert Half International Inc. added $1.13, or 3.9 percent, to $29.91; Kelly Services Inc. climbed 64 cents, or 4 percent, to $16.80; and SFN Group Inc. rose 23 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $8.21.

TrueBlue Inc., which focuses on blue-collar temporary jobs, rose $1.15, or 8.5 percent, to $14.70.
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