Unemployment Rate (Feb. 4)

The Unemployment Rate decreased to 9.0% in January, the lowest level in nearly two years, against expectations of an increase to 9.5%, after decreasing to 9.4% in December. The number of unemployed persons decreased by 600,000 to 13.9 million during the month. Nonfarm Payrolls, which were expected to increase by 137,000, increased only 36,000 in January, the lowest level in four months after increasing by 121,000 in December. The manufacturing sector added 49,000 jobs, the highest increase since August 1998. Employment in retail trade rose by 28,000, the largest number in a year, after rising marginally in December. Healthcare employment continued to rise, with a gain of 11,000. Transportation and warehousing employment fell by 38,000, reflecting a sharp decline among couriers and messengers. Construction lost 32,000 jobs, the largest decline since May 2010, probably as a result of exceptionally harsh winter weather. Government employment declined by 14,000 in January. The Average Workweek declined by 0.1 hour to 34.2 hours. Average Hourly Earnings increased by 8 cents to $22.86.

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