PRIVATE-SECTOR JOB GROWTH STARTS TO FLOURISH…. In the previous post, we talked about the new monthly jobs report, but in keeping with tradition, here’s a slightly different chart — one showing just the private sector job market.

In January, while the public sector lost 30,000 jobs — the consequence of significant spending cuts — the private sector added 222,000 jobs. Given revised data for 2010, this is the 12th consecutive month of private-sector growth.

More importantly, though, we’re starting to see some real momentum. February’s totals weren’t just an improvement on recent reports, the new data shows that February was the best month in nearly a year, and the second-best private-sector job totals since the start of the recession in 2007.

It is, in other words, encouraging. As we talked about earlier, the kind of robust job growth we’d need to bring the unemployment rate down in a hurry would require even stronger employment numbers, but given the hole we’ve been in, what we’re looking for are significant steps in the right direction. That’s exactly the news we received today.

With that in mind, here is a different homemade chart, showing monthly job losses/gains in the private sector since the start of the Great Recession. The image makes a distinction — red columns point to monthly job totals under the Bush administration, while blue columns point to job totals under the Obama administration.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.