Americans Head Back to Work as Industries Revive

Unemployment drops below 9 percent for the first time since April 2009.

March 4, 2011— -- For many Americans, it has been a long, winding road back from the depths of recession. But today's positive government report on jobs offers hope that the nation is slowly getting back to work.

Watch 'World News with Diane Sawyer' for more on this story tonight on ABC'

The Labor Department reported that 192,000 new jobs were created in February, up from January's report of 63,000.

Unemployment has dropped below 9 percent for the first time since April 2009, and behind each number and statistic is a person on a journey back to a job.

One year ago Barry Scott, from Chicago, had been out of work for 25 months. He had applied for 475 jobs and had gone on 100 interviews.

"I'm actually talking to a company in Australia," he said at the time. "I may have to do something as crazy as that to find a way to get a job."

ABC News' David Muir found Scott today, not in Australia, but in Orlando, Fla., at a sales conference. He's now working selling equipment to factories. He was once a sales manager, but today a sales job suits him just fine.

It looks as if American manufacturers are hiring again, something "World News Wwith Diane Sawyer" has focused on all week with its "Made in America" series. U.S. factories added 33,000 jobs in February, and 189,000 over the past year.

Construction has also picked up.

Americans are dining out more, too, and that meant 21,000 new jobs in the restaurant sector. Even hard hit industries like trucking and real estate now show signs of life.

Despite the progress, there remains a long road for many.

Last year 52-year-old Fred Sherrod had lost his merchandising job at Home Depot. He was out of work for a year and a half and was about to lose his health insurance and exhaust his unemployment benefits.

"It affects one's pride," he said. "It affects a lot of people in so many ways."

Today, Sherrod is still looking for a job today but still sees signs of hope.

"I like to maintain a positive attitude and think that eventually something will open up for me, and ... for others, as well," he said.

Not long ago, Americans feared that the country would see an unemployment rate rise higher than 10 percent, but that fear has eased.

Temporary hires are up, which economists see as a sign that more permanent hiring could be just around the corner.