Unemployment drops below 5% but payrolls disappoint

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 151,000 in January, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 4.9%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in several industries, led by retail trade, food services and drinking places, health care, and manufacturing. Employment declined in private educational services, transportation and warehousing, and mining.

Household Survey Data

Both the number of unemployed persons, at 7.8 million, and the unemployment rate, at 4.9%, changed little in January. Over the past 12 months, the number of unemployed persons and the unemployment rate were down by 1.1 million and 0.8%, respectively. (See table A-1)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (4.5%) and Whites (4.3%) declined in January. The jobless rates for adult women (4.5%), teenagers (16%), Blacks (8.8%), Asians (3.7%), and Hispanics (5.9%) showed little change over the month. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged in January, at 2.1 million, and has shown little movement since June. These individuals accounted for 26.9% of the unemployed. (See table A-12.)

After accounting for the annual adjustments to the population controls, the civilian labor force and total employment, as measured by the household survey, were little changed in January. The labor force participation rate, at 62.7%, was little changed. The employment-population ratio (59.6%) changed little over the month but was up by 0.3 percentage points since October. (See table A-1. For additional information about the effects of the population adjustments, see table C.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed at 6.0 million in January but was down by 796,000 over the year. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find full-time jobs. (See table A-8.)

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