Although the news that the U.S. economy generated just 113,000 new payroll jobs in January 2014 disappointed many observers, the latest report from the BLS on the employment situation was fundamentally positive. That was evident not only from the 6.6 percent unemployment rate, down nearly half a percentage point over the last two months, but also from many underlying measures of employment stress—part-time work, long-term joblessness, and others.
Let’s start with the bad news
and get it out of the way. January’s 113,000 new payroll jobs marked the
second month in a row of low job growth. December’s even lower figure
was revised up by just 1,000 jobs to 75,000. Even here, though, the news
was not all bad. The relatively robust November job gain was revised up
from a first-reported 203,000 to 274,000. In addition, the BLS
rebenchmarked its data, as it does each year, to reflect a more
comprehensive count of payrolls. The rebenchmarking increased job growth
for the year by 136,000, bringing the total gain to 2,322,000. The
following chart shows the rebenchmarked data.
The household survey showed strong
improvement in the labor market—630,000 more employed workers and
115,000 unemployed than in December. The unemployment rate fell to 6.6
percent, the lowest in more than five years. In contrast to December,
when a decrease in the unemployment rate was largely attributed to a
decrease in the labor force, the number of people working or looking for
work rose by 523,000. Both the labor force participation rate and the
employment-population ratio increased.
Follow this link to view or download a classroom-ready slideshow with charts of the latest employment data