January US job growth slower again

January US job growth of 113,000 was slower than the 180,000 expected by economists. This is the second month in a row that job growth has been disappointing.

However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the US Department of Labor, unemployment now stands at 6.6%, the lowest level since October 2008.

US media voiced concern today at these figures, wondering whether the strong growth reported during the last two quarters of 2013 may be weakening. Since October, the US jobless rate has dropped by 0.6%

Wall Street investors shrugged off the news as shares rose.

Mixed January US job figures

Among the major worker groups, some saw little change while others’ jobless rates declined more noticeably. Below are some highlighted data on unemployment rates in January:

  • Adult men 6.2% – little change.
  • Adult women 5.9% – little change.
  • Teens 20.7% – little change.
  • Whites 5.7% – little change.
  • Blacks 12.1% – little change.
  • Hispanics 8.4% – little change.
  • Asians 4.8% – down 1.7 percentage points.

The number of long-term unemployed people, i.e. those who have been out of work for at least 27 weeks, fell by 232,000 in January to 3.6 million. The long-term unemployed account for 35.8% of all jobless people in America.

Over the last twelve months the number of long-term unemployed Americans has fallen by 1.1 million.

Total working population increased

After accounting for population controls and annual adjustment, the number of working civilians increased by 499,000 in January, and the labor-force participation rate rose slightly to 63%.

As measured by the household survey, total employment grew by 616,000 compared to the previous month, while the employment-population ratio saw a 0.2 percentage point rise to 58.8%.

The involuntary part-time working population, i.e. people working part time because their hours had been reduced or they could not find full time employment, declined by 514,000 to 7.3 million in January.

There were 2.6 people marginally attached to the labor force in January, i.e. people who had been looking for work at some time during the last 12 months and then gave up. These people are not counted in the unemployment figures because they had not been seeking employment during a four-week period before the survey.

The construction industry, which had been affected by the bad weather in December, saw 48,000 new people in employment in January, manufacturing increased by 21,000 jobs.

However, hiring in health, education, government, utilities and retail fell.

The White House wrote in its Blog today:

“Today’s report is another reminder of both the progress that has been made and the challenges that remain. Businesses have now added 8.5 million jobs over the last 47 months and the unemployment rate ticked down to its lowest level in more than five years.”

“But the economy is still healing from the Great Recession and steps are still needed to expand economic opportunity. Given the elevated long-term unemployment rate, extending emergency unemployment benefits for the 1.7 million workers who lost them is critical. At the same time, the President will continue to focus on action, both pushing forward on priorities with Congress and using his pen and his phone to expand opportunity and growth.”

Last week the US Department of Commerce informed that while personal spending rose, personal income did not.