The Labor Department reported non-farm payrolls rose by
just 36,000 in January while the unemployment rate fell from 9.4% to 9.0%,
the lowest level since April of 2009.
Though hiring in the manufacturing sector
was quite strong, the non-farm payrolls gain was disappointing, well below
the consensus estimate of 140,000.
The drop in the jobless rate, however,
was a pleasant surprise as it was due largely to more workers finding jobs
rather than a shrinking labor force. The broader U-6 measure of unemployment,
including those who have stopped looking for work and those settling for
part-time work, fell from 16.7% to 16.1%.
By category, the manufacturing sector
had its best month of hiring in more than 12 years, adding 49,000 new jobs,
offsetting losses elsewhere, notably, in construction where bad weather
throughout much of the country likely contributed to the decline of 32,000.
Temporary help declined by 11,400 while
there was a net gain of 31,000 in the professional and business services
category, possibly a sign that more temporary workers are being hired to
permanent positions, and local governments continue to shed jobs, another
10,000 in January that led to an overall decline of 14,000 in the government
Note that today’s jobs report
includes the annual benchmark revisions to the Labor Department data –
a net change of -362,000 going all the way back to 2006 – and this will
be covered in a subsequent post this morning.