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U.S. unemployment down to 9% in January 2011

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics information released today, the unemployment rat in the U.S. fell by 0.4% to 9.0% in January, while nonfarm employment changed little (+36,000). Employment rose in manufacturing and retail trade and fell in construction, transportation, and warehousing, but was almost unchanged in most other major industries. Unemployment in the U.S. in December was 9.4%.

I don’t expect that the same downward trend will occur in California, but we shall see.

The report states that the number of unemployed people decreased by about 600,000 in January to 13.9 million (which is still A LOT!), while the labor force was unchanged.

“Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (8.8 percent), whites (8.0 percent), and Hispanics (11.9 percent) declined in January. The unemployment rates for adult women (7.9 percent), teenagers (25.7 percent), and blacks (15.7 percent) were little changed. The jobless rate for Asians was 6.9 percent, not seasonally adjusted.”

The number of people who lost their jobs or completed temporary jobs fell from 8.9 million to 8.5 million in January. The number of long-term unemployed (27 weeks or more) decreased slightly to 6.2 million. This group still represents 43.8% of all of the unemployed. The employment to population ratio (58.4%) increased in January, and the labor force participation rate (64.2%) was unchanged.

The number of people who were employed part-time for economic reasons (“involuntary part-time workers”) declined from 8.9 million to 8.4 million in January. These folks were working part-time either because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

There were 2.8 million people who were “marginally attached to the workforce” in January, UP from 2.5 million in January 2010. These folks were not in the workforce, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not looked for work in the four weeks that preceded the survey. This group included 1.0 million discouraged workers, who believe that no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.8 million had not looked for work in the preceding four weeks for reasons like family responsibilities or school attendance.

The report had the following to say with regard to employment in various industries:

“Total nonfarm payroll employment changed little in January (+36,000). Manufacturing and retail trade added jobs over the month, while employment declined in construction and in transportation and warehousing. Since a recent low in February 2010, total payroll employment has increased by an average of 93,000 per month.”

“Manufacturing added 49,000 jobs in January. Over the month, job gains occurred in durable goods, including motor vehicles and parts (+20,000), fabricated metal products (+13,000), machinery (+10,000), and computer and electronic products (+5,000). Employment in nondurable goods manufacturing declined by 13,000 over the month.”

“Employment in retail trade rose by 28,000 in January, after changing little in December. Retail trade has added 123,000 jobs since its recent low point in December 2009. In January, employment in clothing stores increased by 15,000.”

“Health care employment continued to trend up over the month (+11,000). Over the prior 12 months, health care had added an average of 22,000 jobs per month.”

“In January, construction employment declined by 32,000. Within construction, there were job losses among nonresidential specialty trade contractors (-22,000) and in construction of buildings  (-10,000). Employment in construction may have been impacted by severe winter weather affecting parts of the country during the survey reference period.”

“Transportation and warehousing employment fell by 38,000 in January, reflecting a sharp decline among couriers and messengers (-45,000). Couriers and messengers had an unusually large job gain in December, followed by layoffs of a similar magnitude in January.”

“Within professional and business services, employment in temporary help services was little changed in January (-11,000).  Temporary help had added an average of 25,000 jobs per month over the prior 12 months”.

There were also revisions of data presented earlier. The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for November was revised from +71,000 to +93,000, and the change for December was revised from +103,000 to +121,000. Monthly revisions result from additional sample reports and the monthly recalculation of seasonal factors. The annual benchmark process also contributed to these revisions.

There is also a PDF version of the report that contains graphs and an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section.

-Bill at

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