KANSAS CITY, Mo. - U.S. stock futures rose sharply and the Dow Jones industrial average is likely to push higher into record territory Friday after the government released surprisingly strong jobs numbers and said that the unemployment rate dipped to a four-year low.
The unemployment rate and number of employers looking to hire in Kansas City is on par with the national average, according to Scott Anglemyer, with the Workforce Partnership in Kansas.
Dow Jones industrial futures gained 80 points to 14,336.60. S&P futures rose 6.4 points to 1,544.10. Nasdaq futures tacked on 10.75 points to 2,805.75.
Employers added 236,000 jobs last month, far exceeding economist predictions. The unemployment rate broke out of a stubborn range of 7.8 percent or above since September, falling to 7.7 percent.
In Kansas City, Anglemyer notes construction jobs are really bouncing back, and IT and healthcare jobs are on the rise.
"We tend to mock what's going on nationally. We tend to enter the recession late, and recover a little later too, but what's going on around the country is pretty close to what's also going on in Kansas City," he said.
There are still millions of unemployed Americans, and on Friday, Google announced an additional 1,200 job cuts at its Motorola division. That is on top of the 4,000 job cuts announced last summer.
Also on Friday McDonald's reported that comparable-store sales slumped again as it wrestles with economic strains in countries worldwide.
Sales at U.S. stores open at least a year dropped 3.3 percent, but the figure would have been flat if the impact of an extra day is excluded. Investors are paying close attention to those domestic sales for evidence that the payroll tax, which jumped in January, is cooling the desire of U.S. consumers to spend. Americans are also absorbing higher gas prices and a delay in federal tax returns.
But the unemployment report Friday backed up market optimism after the Labor Department released weekly unemployment claims numbers on Thursday, pushing the Dow to new highs.
Anglemyer says the most important thing for job seekers to do is stay positive, which will help those out of work to land interviews, craft a resume that will grab attention and be open to new opportunities.
"Stay positive. Hopefully this gives people some encouragement. If you're not positive it comes across in everything they do," Anglemyer said.