0

Unemployment rate hits 8.3 pct. after hiring burst

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, accompanied by Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., left, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va., talks about jobs and the latest government report on unemployment, Friday, Feb. 3, 2012, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, accompanied by Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., left, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va., talks about jobs and the latest government report on unemployment, Friday, Feb. 3, 2012, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- In the most impressive surge for the job market since early last year, the United States added 243,000 jobs in January, far more than economists expected. The unemployment rate dropped to 8.3 percent, the lowest in three years.

Hiring accelerated across the economy and up and down the pay scale. The high-salary professional services industry added 70,000 jobs, the most in 10 months. Manufacturing added 50,000, the most in a year.

"This is a very positive employment report from almost any angle," said Brian Bethune, an economics professor at Amherst College.

The report seemed certain to shake up the presidential campaign, which is expected to turn on the economy. The unemployment rate is the lowest since February 2009, one month after President Barack Obama took office.

The report Friday from the Labor Department sent money pouring into the stock market, already off to its best start in 15 years because of improving confidence in the economy, and out of more conservative investments in bonds.

The Dow Jones industrial average shot 160 points higher to 12,865 in the first hour of trading. That is 55 points better than its highest close since the financial crisis struck in the fall of 2008.

It was the most jobs added since and March and April of last year, when 246,000 and 251,000 jobs were created. Before that, the last month with stronger hiring, excluding months skewed by temporary census jobs, was March 2006.

The government said hiring was stronger in November and December by 60,000 jobs than first estimated. It was also stronger over the past two years than previously thought. The economy added 1.82 million jobs last year, nearly twice as many as in 2010.

The unemployment rate was down two notches from the 8.5 percent reading last month. It was also the fifth consecutive month the rate has fallen, the first time that has happened since late 1994.

Employers have added an average of 201,000 jobs a month in the past three months. That's 50,000 more jobs per month than the economy averaged in each month last year.

The Labor Department's January jobs report was filled with other encouraging data and revisions. The economy added 200,000 more jobs in 2011 than first thought.

The unemployment rate is nearly a percentage point lower than over the summer, when many feared a recession was imminent.

Impressively, the job gains last month were spread across the economy. Even the beleaguered construction sector added 21,000 jobs, its second month of strong gains. That figure has probably been helped by unseasonably warm weather this winter.

The leisure and hospitality industry, which includes restaurants and hotels, added 44,000 jobs. Retailers added nearly 11,000.

The unemployment rate fell even as more people began looking for work. But a much larger number said they found work.

More jobs and higher incomes should help consumers boost spending and increase economic growth.

Even with the gains, the job market faces a long way back to full health. The nation has about 5.6 million fewer jobs than it did when the recession began in late 2007.

There are still 12.8 million people out of work, though that is the fewest since the recession ended. An additional 11 million are either working part-time but would prefer full-time work, or have stopped searching for jobs.

When all those groups are combined, nearly 24 million are considered "underemployed. The so-called "underemployment" rate ticked down in January to 15.1 percent, from 15.2 percent.

Several reports signaled this week that the economy is improving gradually. Manufacturers expanded at the fastest pace in seven months in January, a private survey showed.

And fewer people sought unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said. The four-week average of applications fell to its second-lowest level since June 2008. The drop shows that companies are cutting fewer jobs, which usually leads to more hiring.

Americans spent more at big chain retail stores last month compared with a year earlier. And automakers began 2012 with a strong sales gain in January. Healthier auto sales can boost a range of companies, from steel makers to parts suppliers to shippers.

The economy expanded at a 2.8 percent annual pace in the October-December quarter, a full percentage point higher than in the previous quarter.

Even so, economists expect slower growth this year. Much of the fourth quarter's expansion was due to companies ordering more goods to restock their warehouses. Restocking is likely to slow in the first three months of this year. That would drag on growth.

Europe's financial crisis could also slow demand for U.S. goods. And average wages failed to keep up with inflation last year. That leaves consumers with less spending power, which can hamper growth.

Comments

BuzzG 2 years, 5 months ago

Don't believe it. Obama is cooking the numbers for political reasons. They have removed many people from the work force because they have collected unemployment for two years and still do not have work.

1

BuzzG 2 years, 5 months ago

In January, those "Not in Labor Force" rose by an amazing 1,177,000. If you are not in the labor force, you are not counted as unemployed. Try telling that to the 1,177,000 people.

1

BuzzG 2 years, 5 months ago

More data not reported by the AP or Mr. Rugaber.


In the last year, the civilian population rose by 3,565,000. Yet the labor force only rose by 1,145,000. Those not in the labor force rose by 2,420,000.

In January, the Civilian Labor Force rose by 508,000.

In January, those "Not in Labor Force" rose by an amazing 1,177,000. If you are not in the labor force, you are not counted as unemployed.

Participation Rate fell .3 to 63.7%, taking out a 1984 low

Were it not for people dropping out of the labor force, the unemployment rate would be well over 11%.

Some of those labor force numbers are due to annual revisions. However, the point remains: People are dropping out of the labor force at an astounding, almost unbelievable rate, holding the unemployment rate artificially low.

0

kevin 2 years, 3 months ago

This is a socialist government dream come true: more people dependent on the government.

0

dan 2 years, 5 months ago

Any time something good is announced, republicans try to make it sound like Obama is covering something up and things are not as good as they seem. The economy won't improve overnight. It's amazing that Obama has been able to clean up the mess that the bush administration left him with in such a short amount of time. You guys just need to accept the fact that Obama will be reelected this year.

1

JV 2 years, 5 months ago

Interesting data. Guess they didn’t include this: American Airlines say they are firing 13,000, Pepsi is firing 4,000 workers, Boeing is firing 2,300 workers and closing plants, Bank of America is firing 30,000 to 40,000 workers , Cisco is firing 11,500 worker, Sears is closing 120 stores and firing 10s of thousands , Lowes is closing 20 store and firing 2,000 ,Goldman Sachs is firing 1,000, US Postal Service is firing a massive 260,000 workers or facing bankruptcy in early 2012 and Citi Group say the firing workers after earnings misses.

dan, you are delusional. Give up that liberal kool-aid.

1

kevin 2 years, 3 months ago

the media never considers the NET increase or decrease, only the GROSS increase, which is totally meaningless. Ask Jay Carney, the Obama spokesman. He always has an answer for everything.

0

kevin 2 years, 3 months ago

any improvement is due to the pending change in presidents in Nov. With Romney heavily supported, this will be a slam dunk. are YOU better off today than 4 yrs ago? I didn't think so! Just look at inflation. The Feds lie about that too. It is well above what has been reported by the media. What your government does is not to include the basic necessities that you buy everyday, like gasoline, plane fares, which affects the price of almost everything else.

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, needs to go. He has been hijacked by the Demos lately.

0

Sign in to comment