The nation's non-farm payrolls continue to climb, with the latest evidence of this being provided early this morning by the U.S. Labor Department, which issued data showing that the country added an aggregate 157,000 jobs in January. That was essentially in line with expectations. One disquieting note was the fact that the unemployment rate, which had been expected to hold steady at an elevated 7.8%, rose by 0.1%, to 7.9%.
Meanwhile, non-farm payrolls for November and December, as well as the rest of 2012, were revised, and generally higher. For example, payroll growth, which was initially estimated at 155,000 for November, was revised to show a gain of 196,000. Moreover, 247,000 jobs were added in December, more than 50% above the initially estimated increase of 161,000.
In addition, the total number of unemployed persons held more-or-less steady at 12.3 million last month. At 7.9%, meantime, the jobless rate has been rangebound since last September. Also, last month, the number of long-term unemployed, which takes in those out of work for more than 26 weeks, remained unchanged at 4.7 million. That group accounted for just over 38% of the total jobless last month.
Also little changed last month was the number of persons employed part time for economic reasons, with that total remaining at 8.0 million.
Among the groups adding notably to the employment rolls in January were construction workers (up 28,000), health care (up 23,000), wholesale trade (up 15,000), and mining (up 6,000). However, manufacturing employment was largely unchanged and has been little changed, on average, since last July--a worrisome span of six months.
Finally, the average workweek was unchanged last month at 34.4 hours, while average hourly earnings rose by four cents to $23.78. Over the past year, average wages are up just over 2%, which should not concern the Federal Reserve, as such an increase is well within the modest inflation targets hoped-for by the central bank.
All in all, this was a decent report, especially with the revisions, but not one that will change the basic assumption here that payroll growth will remain historically subdued and that the jobless rate will stay elevated for another year or two.
At the time of this article's writing, the author did not have positions in any of the companies mentioned.