WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – The latest jobs numbers gives hope to workers, employers, and the government that the Great Recession and jobs crisis may be slowly starting to retreat permanently.

According to the Labor Department, 236,000 jobs were added to U.S. payrolls in February. The unemployment rate dropped to 7.7 percent as a result of those additions, which marked the lowest unemployment rate in four years.

In addition, according to the Washington Post, private sector pay rose 0.6 percent as both wages and hours increased in February.

Still, the labor did shrink and many simply gave up looking for work. Plus, the numbers reflected the time period before the massive across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration actually hit this month.

Breaking down the numbers, the construction sector added 48,000 jobs in February, which was the most since March 2007. In addition, despite the payroll tax increase, Americans kept spending at a pace that allowed retailers to add more than 23,000 jobs.

The unemployment rate may have been even lower if the federal and state governments weren’t continuing to shrink their payrolls. The federal government cut 4,200 jobs in February while state governments cut 8,000 and local governments cut 2,000, according to the Post.