The U.S. economy added only 113,000 new jobs in January while the unemployment rate dipped down to 6.6% from 6.7% in December. Economists projected that 180,000 jobs would be created in January.
The previous months’ job creation data were only slightly revised: 274,000 jobs created in November compared to the original 241,000 number and 75,000 jobs created in December compared to 74,000 as originally reported last month.
The unemployment rate, which is based on a survey of households (the jobs-created number is based on a survey on employers), showed slightly better news. The 6.6% unemployment is the lowest since October, 2008 and the labor force participation rate, which measures the portion of the population that has or is looking for work, ticked up to 63% from 62.8% in December.
The unemployment rate dropped in January for the “right reasons” — namely that the number of individuals reporting that they were employed in the household survey, 616,000, was larger than the number of individuals enetering the labor force, 499,000.
“The trend in the job market has not changed,” said Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi on CNBC, noting that the new numbers were roughly in line with the average jobs created over the last year of 194,000 per month.
While some analysts were expecting low numbers due to bad weather in January, the sector of the economy that would seem to be most affected showed job growth actually reversed losses from December: Construction added 48,000 jobs compared to a 22,000 job lost in December. State, local, and federal governments shed 29,000 jobs — 12,000 from the federal government and 9,000 jobs lost in the Post Office alone.