The White House's chief economist said on Friday that the drop in the February jobless rate showed that the economic recovery is gaining traction.

Employers stepped up hiring last month, pushing the unemployment rate to a four-year low of 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent in January, the Labor Department said. Non-farm payrolls surged a higher-than-expected 236,000 jobs in February.

"While more work remains to be done, today's employment report provides evidence that the recovery that began in mid-2009 is gaining traction," Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said in a statement.

(Reporting by Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Vicki Allen)