New Year Kicks Off with 157,000 New Jobs

By Toni Vranjes

February 1, 2013

Employers continued to boost their payrolls in the new year, with 157,000 jobs created in January. Nevertheless, the nation’s unemployment rate increased slightly, from 7.8 percent to 7.9 percent.

One particularly strong area was retail trade, which added nearly 33,000 jobs. Other areas of employment growth included construction, health care, and professional and business services. Meanwhile, government employment fell by 9,000.

In addition, revised government data show that employment growth during the last two months of 2012 was stronger than previously reported. The revisions show job gains of 247,000 in November, up from 161,000. The Labor Department also revised December’s job growth upward, from 155,000 to 196,000.

The upward revisions impressed IHS Global Insight economist Nigel Gault.

“January payroll employment growth was close to expectations, but upward revisions to history gave today’s payroll report a positive glow,” he wrote in a commentary.

The gradual improvement in the job market contrasts with other recent news: the U.S. gross domestic product actually shrank in the fourth quarter. In Gault’s view, the GDP report doesn’t provide the right picture of the economy.

On the White House blog, President Obama’s chief economist Alan Krueger emphasized the long-term gains in the private sector. Businesses have added jobs for 35 straight months, according to Krueger.

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