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Unemployment Rate Drops to 6.6%

The Department of Labor released its January employment situation report (link opens in PDF) today, and results are disappointing.  After adding on a revised 75,000 jobs in December, total nonfarm payroll employment expanded by 113,000 in January, missing analyst estimates of 181,000.  Job gains have averaged just 154,000 the past three months, down from 201,000 in the preceding three. 

Despite the lackluster results, the unemployment rate shaved off another 0.1 percentage points to hit 6.6%, the lowest rate since October 2008. And while drops in labor force participation have been a key push behind dipping rates, January's report shows an expansion in the labor force, up 523,000 after falling 347,000 in December.

Source: Labor Department. 

In the private sector, construction added on 48,000 jobs for a solid recovery from December's 22,000  decline. Professional and business services hired 36,000 more workers, while manufacturing employment increased 21,000.

Federal government employment tapered off 12,000, with 9,000 jobs lost from the United States Postal Service.

For those with jobs, January's hourly earnings increased 0.2% month-over-month, in line with analyst expectations. Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by $0.05 to $24.21 The average workweek stayed steady at 34.4 hours.

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.



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