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It doesn’t feel like three years since the market hit its low in March of 2009.  Over those three years, there have certainly been a lot of ups and downs.  In fact, there has been what I’ll call outright panics.

I wrote a column for U.S. News and World Report a few months ago that was about how investors would have felt if they slept through 2011. In that same light, if you had gone to sleep on March 9th, 2009, and woke up three years later to  check the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (S&P 500), you’d see an index up 102% (with a 115% total return including dividends).

Of the 10 prior bull markets since WWII, this is the strongest of them all.

For the week, the DJIA lost -0.43% to 12,922, the S&P 500 gained 0.09% to 1,371, and the Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.41% to 2,988.  The Russell 2000 Index, which tracks the performance of small capitalization stocks, gained the most ground this week up 1.82% to finish at 817.

Last week we saw another solid jobs report.  It was not spectacular, but it was decent.  The February jobs report showed that the labor market continues to improve, albeit at a modest pace. Interestingly, the warm weather didn’t seem to have a major positive impact on the report but bad weather is often cited as a contributor to a negative report.  With the 233,000 jobs gained in February, the economy has added 3.9 million private sector jobs since February 2010 after losing 8.8 million jobs between early 2008 and early 2010. Over the past three months, the economy has created an average of 251,000 private sector jobs per month. The last time the economy created that many jobs on a consistent basis was in 2005 and early 2006 during the middle part of the 2002-2007 expansion.

The unemployment rate remained at 8.3%.  That number is calculated by taking the number of unemployed persons, currently 12.8 million, divided by the labor force, which stands at 154.9 million.

At 8.3% the unemployment rate is well below the recent peak (it was up to 10.0% in late 2009).  The problem remains that it is nearly double the 4.4% rate seen prior to the Great Recession.

The broadest measure of unemployment, which includes those working part time and those who have given up looking for work was 14.9% in February.  This is down from 15.1 in January and a peak of 17.2% in late 2009. This is also nearly double what it was (7.9%) prior to the onset of the Great Recession.

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Securities and Financial Planning offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor. Member FINRA/SIPC

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is comprised of 30 stocks that are major factors in their industries, and widely held by individuals and institutional investors. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock Index (S&P 500) is an unmanaged capitalization weighted index of 500 stocks designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries. The NASDAQ Composite Index measures all domestic and non-U.S. based common stocks listed on The NASDAQ Stock Market. The market value, the last sale price multiplied by total shares outstanding, is calculated throughout the trading day, and is related to the total value of the Index. The Russell 2000 Small Stock Index is an unmanaged index generally representative of the 2000 smallest companies in the Russell 3000 Index. The Russell 2000 is an unmanaged index generally comprised of companies with lower price-to-book ratios and lower forecasted growth values.