WASHINGTON—Private-sector job creation in the U.S. accelerated in February and unemployment fell below 9% for the first time in nearly two years, the latest signs of an improving economy.

Nonfarm payrolls rose by 192,000 last month as the private-sector added 222,000 jobs, the Labor Department said Friday in its survey of employers. The January number was revised to show an increase of 63,000 jobs, from a previous estimate of 36,000.

The unemployment rate, which is obtained from a separate household survey, fell to 8.9% last month, the first time it dipped below 9% since April 2009 and a substantial decline from November’s 9.8%. Still, there are about 13.67 million people who would like to work can’t get a job.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast payrolls would rise by 200,000 and that the jobless rate would inch up to 9.1% from the previous month’s 9%.

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