U.S. Unemployment Rate Drops to 9% in January


U.S. unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage point to 9.0 percent in January, while nonfarm payroll employment changed little (+36,000), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on February 4. Employment rose in manufacturing and in retail trade but was down in construction and in transportation and warehousing. Employment in most other major industries changed little over the month.

The unemployment rate (9.0 percent) declined by 0.4 percentage point for the second month in a row. The number of unemployed persons decreased by about 600,000 in January to 13.9 million, while the labor force was unchanged.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (8.8 percent), whites (8.0 percent), and Hispanics (11.9 percent) declined in January. The unemployment rates for adult women (7.9 percent), teenagers (25.7 percent), and blacks (15.7 percent) were little changed. The jobless rate for Asians was 6.9 percent, not seasonally adjusted.

The number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs fell from 8.9 to 8.5 million in January. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) edged down to 6.2 million and accounted for 43.8 percent of the unemployed.

Total nonfarm payroll employment changed little in January (+36,000). Manufacturing and retail trade added jobs over the month, while employment declined in construction and in transportation and warehousing. Since a recent low in February 2010, total payroll employment has increased by an average of 93,000 per month.

Manufacturing added 49,000 jobs in January. Over the month, job gains occurred in durable goods, including motor vehicles and parts (+20,000), fabricated metal products (+13,000), machinery (+10,000), and computer and electronic products (+5,000). Employment in nondurable goods manufacturing declined by 13,000 over the month.

Employment in retail trade rose by 28,000 in January, after changing little in December. Retail trade has added 123,000 jobs since its recent low point in December 2009. In January, employment in clothing stores increased by 15,000.

Health care employment continued to trend up over the month (+11,000). Over the prior 12 months, health care had added an average of 22,000 jobs per month.

In January, construction employment declined by 32,000. Within construction, there were job losses among nonresidential specialty trade contractors (-22,000) and in construction of buildings (-10,000). Employment in construction may have been impacted by severe winter weather affecting parts of the country during the survey reference period.

Transportation and warehousing employment fell by 38,000 in January, reflecting a sharp decline among couriers and messengers (-45,000). Couriers and messengers had an unusually large job gain in December, followed by layoffs of a similar magnitude in January.

In January, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 8 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $22.86. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 1.9 percent. In January, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees rose by 10 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $19.34.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for November was revised from +71,000 to +93,000, and the change for December was revised from +103,000 to +121,000. Monthly revisions result from additional sample reports and the monthly recalculation of seasonal factors. The annual benchmark process also contributed to these revisions.


TradingEconomics.com, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
2/4/2011 1:44:09 PM