Job growth remains weak
By Annalyn Kurtz
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — After a chilly month for job growth in December, hiring warmed up a bit in January. But not by much.
The U.S. economy added 113,000 jobs last month, according to the government. That’s an improvement from December, but was far weaker than hoped. Economists had been expecting an addition of 178,000 jobs.
Many economists had also been hoping that December’s weak job gains would be revised much higher, as many experts were quick to write off the December report as a fluke. The number was revised higher, but only by 1,000 jobs to 75,000.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate was 6.6% in January, as 10 million Americans were counted as unemployed. Overall, the unemployment rate has improved substantially since it peaked at 10% in 2009.
That said, much of the decline in unemployment has come for a discouraging reason: some Americans are dropping out of the labor force. As of January, only 63% of Americans over age 16 participated in the labor market — meaning they either had a job or looked for one. This matches the lowest level since 1978.
While some of the decline is partly due to baby boomers retiring, economists are also concerned about the long-term unemployed, who may be giving up on the job market altogether.
About 3.6 million Americans have been unemployed for six months or more. Those who were relying on extended government benefits lost that lifeline in December.
The Labor Department also revised its 2013 data, showing the economy added 136,000 more jobs during the year than originally reported.
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