Employers in the United States have stepped up hiring, adding hundreds of thousands of workers to their payrolls in recent weeks. The development was seen in Washington as a bright signal of the economy\'s health. The US Labor Department reported Friday the number of new jobs in the country rose by 236,000 in February. It said the unemployment rate dipped to a four-year low of 7.7 percent, down from 7.9 percent in the previous month. The figures were good news for the current administration as it marked the lowest jobless rate since Barack Obama took office. The number of unemployed people fell to just over 12 million, the fewest since December 2008. A closer look at the figure revealed, though, that only about half of the decline occurred because of people actually finding new jobs. Another 130,000 gave up on their search for employment, meaning they weren\'t counted as jobless any more in February. Bullish markets The construction industry appeared to be particularly strong, with 48,000 new jobs added in the sector last month. But manufacturers and retailers also experienced a burst of hiring as they expected healthy consumer spending in the months ahead.