The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that nonfarm payroll employment increased by 157,000 in January, but the unemployment rate ticked up a tenth of a percentage point to 7.9 percent.
The main industries that added jobs in January were retail trade, construction, health care and wholesale trade. Employment in other major industries, including financial activities, professional and businesses services, leisure and hospitality, and government, showed little change over the course of the month.
The number of unemployed people, at 12.3 million, was little changed in January. The unemployment rate was 7.9 percent and has been at or near that level since September 2012. In January, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was about unchanged at 4.7 million and accounted for 38.1 percent of the unemployed.
However, the BLS revised upward its employment numbers for both November and December. The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for November was revised from 161,000 to 247,000 jobs added, and the change for December was revised from 155,000 to 196,000 jobs added.
House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., commented on the jobs report by noting that the Commerce Department reported earlier this week a 0.1 percent contraction in gross domestic product in the fourth quarter, and President Obama decided not to renew the charter for his so-called jobs council, an advisory council of corporate leaders officially known as the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
“This report and the fact that GDP was negative in the 4th quarter confirms just how weak the economy has stayed under President Obama’s watch,” Camp said in a statement. “It makes you question even more why the President eliminated his jobs council yesterday. It is time Washington started working for hardworking taxpayers, instead of throwing up more barriers to job creation and higher wages. We should start with comprehensive tax reform that makes the tax code simpler and fairer by eliminating special interest loopholes and allows employers to hire more workers. Congress and the President owe it to the more than 12 million unemployed looking for work in this country to engage in this important effort.”
The White House provided a more positive view of the jobs report. “While more work remains to be done, today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression,” Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, wrote on the White House blog. “It is critical that we pursue the policies needed to build an economy that works for the middle class as we continue to dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began in December 2007. Today’s report is a reminder of the importance of the need for Congress to act to avoid self-inflicted wounds to the economy. The Administration continues to urge Congress to move toward a sustainable federal budget in a responsible way that balances revenue and spending, and replaces the sequester, while making critical investments in the economy that promote growth and job creation and protect our most vulnerable citizens.”
House Ways and Means Committee ranking member Sander Levin, D-Mich. noted that the jobs report indicated that the recovery was still fragile and Congress would need to address the budget deficit. "Today's report is another sign that our economy continues to recover," he said in a statement. "However, an earlier report this week shows that the recovery remains fragile. It is therefore imperative that Republicans in Congress stop creating endless uncertainty and anxiety, which hurts our economy. Going forward we must address the deficit through a balanced approach of spending cuts and revenue. But we also must remember that the key to deficit reduction is a vibrant economy."