No Surprises in January Job Growth, But 2012’s Numbers Look a Bit Better

There were no real surprises in January’s jobs report from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The U.S. economy added 157,000 jobs in January, most, as usual, in the services sector. Unemployment, meanwhile, crept up to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent.

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 percent unemployment rate would be unchanged. A Forbes survey suggested the rate might decrease to 7.7 percent.

Revised 2012 numbers add more 335,000 job

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.”Econ-indices-1.2013

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How various sectors did

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;
  • Health care 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 work week stayed the same at 34.4 hours, though the manufacturing work week 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 percent of manufacturers and a net of 33.1 percent of service-sector companies will add jobs in February.”

John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.


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