NPR logo Unemployment Falls, But Economy Only Adds 36K New Jobs


Unemployment Falls, But Economy Only Adds 36K New Jobs

The unemployment rate dropped to 9 percent in January, the Labor Department reported Friday. But the drop from 9.4 percent came with a rise in employment of only 36 thousand jobs.

While the unemployment rate is at its lowest level in since April 2009, economists had expected the economy to add 145,000 jobs, according to Reuters. Harsh winter weather is thought to have hampered job growth in the construction industry.

Manufacturing jobs stood out in the report, according to the Labor Department:

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 AP notes that some people just aren't looking for work any more after failing to find jobs:

The unemployment rate has fallen by eight-tenths of a percentage point in the past two months. That's the steepest two-month drop in nearly 53 years.

But part of that drop has occurred as many of those out of work gave up on their job searches. When unemployed people stop looking for jobs, the government no longer counts them as unemployed.

Update at 11:40 a.m. ET: Jacob Goldstein breaks down the numbers in an analysis over at Planet Money. The bottom line:

There are a few answers to this question. But before I wade into the weeds, here's the bottom line: The job market is probably not as awful as number of new jobs suggests, nor is it as promising as the sharp decline in unemployment suggests.