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January Jobs Up 157,000; Revisions Push 2012 Job Growth Over 2 Million

by Feb 1, 2013, 9:35 am ET

Econ indices 1.2013No real surprises in this morning’s jobs report from the Labor Department. The U.S. economy added 157,000 jobs in January, most, as usual, in the services sector. Unemployment, meanwhile, crept up to 7.9% from 7.8%.

Economists were mostly expecting the numbers. Most estimates earlier in the week averaged out between about 160,000 and 165,000 new jobs. They had predicted December’s 7.8% unemployment rate would be unchanged. A Forbes survey suggested the rate might decrease to 7.7%.

In terms of actual numbers, 12.3 million Americans remain out of work, with 4.7 million of them unemployed for more than six months. Another 8 million are working at part-time jobs because they can’t find full time employment.

The January jobs gain is the smallest since September’s 138,000, but the report did up the jobs numbers for both December and November by a combined 127,000.

The only real surprise came from the annual revision to the monthly numbers. The government report says the economy added 335,000 more jobs in 2012 than the 1.835 million was initially reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Adjustments to the previous year’s data are released annually.

“The U.S. labor market has been very resilient in recent months,” Harm Bandholz, chief U.S. economist at UniCredit Group in New York, told Bloomberg News. “The big story is all the upward revisions to the previous months, which gives the report a real positive spin. All these concerns that the fiscal uncertainty deterred businesses from hiring, they certainly haven’t materialized.”

Overall, however, the report did nothing to change the nation’s employment picture:

  • Construction jobs grew by 28,000;
  • Manufacturing added 4,000;
  • Mining increased by 6,000 jobs. Largely because of increases in oil production, the sector has added 23,000 jobs in the last three months.
  • Retailers added 32,600 jobs, with 10,000 of them coming from clothing stores;
  • Healthcare grew by 27,600, most of that coming in the ambulatory health services area. Doctor’s offices added 9,200 jobs alone.
  • The leisure and hospitality industry grew by 23,000 jobs during the month, with 17,100 coming from jobs added by food and drinking establishments.
  • The temp sector, considered an early indicator of future permanent hiring and growth, lost 8,100 jobs.

The workweek stayed the same at 34.4 hours, though the manufacturing workweek declined by .1 hour to 40.6, a sign of decreasing demand.

“With a gain of 157,000 jobs in January, the employment situation continues to improve despite slow economic growth,” said Kathy Bostjancic, director of macroeconomic analysis at The Conference Board.

The Society for Human Resource Management says in February that manufacturing hiring will reach a four-year high, while hiring in the services sector will also increase over last year. SHRM’s LINE report says, “A net of 47.2% of manufacturers and a net of 33.1% of service-sector companies will add jobs in February.”

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.