US adds 157,000 jobs in Jan but jobless rate inches up to 7.9%

01 February 2013 14:05  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--The US economy added 157,000 jobs in January, the Commerce Department said on Friday, but the nation’s unemployment rate ticked back up to 7.9% from the December reading of 7.8%.

January’s incremental increase in the unemployment rate marked the second consecutive monthly gain.  December saw the unemployment rate edge up to 7.8% from the 7.7% measure in November.

In its monthly employment report, the department said that the job gains in January were chiefly in retail trade, construction, health care and wholesale trade.

The 157,000 jobs increase is about what most economists had been expecting. 

Despite the advance in hiring, the unemployment rate edged up, apparently because more unemployed people have resumed looking for work.  Workers who have given up looking for a job are not counted in the unemployment total, which now stands at 12.3m.

While the employment gain is welcome, the pace of new job creation is still weak.

The US must generate around 150,000 jobs each month just to accommodate new workers entering the employment market.

To make any significant headway in reducing the unemployment rate, economists say the US would need to add 300,000 to 350,000 jobs per month for multiple successive quarters.

For 2012 overall, the department said that the economy added an average 181,000 jobs each month.

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Joe Kamalick
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