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Unemployment rate drops to 8.3 percent nationwide

February 3, 2012

Online Staff Report

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Feb. 3 that 243,000 jobs were created in January, lowering the national unemployment rate to 8.3 percent.

According to the BLS, job growth was widespread in the private sector, with large employment gains in professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and manufacturing. Government employment changed little over the month.

The national unemployment rate has fallen by 0.8 percentage points since August, and the number of unemployed people declined to 12.8 million in January.

Locally, the Illinois Department of Employment Security announced Jan. 26 that despite gaining 500 jobs between December 2010 and December 2011, Rockford’s unemployment rate remains the highest in the state at 12.5 percent.

Among the major worker groups identified in the national BLS report, the unemployment rates for adult men (7.7 percent) and blacks (13.6 percent) declined in January. The unemployment rates for adult women (7.7 percent), teen-agers (23.2 percent), whites (7.4 percent) and Hispanics (10.5 percent) were little changed. The jobless rate for Asians was 6.7 percent, not seasonally adjusted.

In January, the number of job losers and people who completed temporary jobs fell to 7.3 million. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 5.5 million and accounted for 42.9 percent of the unemployed.

After accounting for the annual adjustments to the population controls, the employment-population ratio (58.5 percent) rose in January, while the civilian labor force participation rate held at 63.7 percent.

The number of people employed part-time for economic reasons, at 8.2 million, changed little in January. These individuals were working part-time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

In January, 2.8 million people were marginally attached to the labor force, essentially unchanged from a year earlier. These individuals were not in the labor force, 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 searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey.

Among the marginally attached, there were 1.1 million discouraged workers in January, little different from a year earlier. Discouraged workers are people not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.7 million people marginally attached to the labor force in January had not searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

Professional and business services continued to add jobs in January (plus 70,000). About half of the increase occurred in employment services (plus 33,000). Job gains also occurred in accounting and bookkeeping (plus 13,000), and in architectural and engineering services (plus 7,000).

Over the month, employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 44,000, primarily in food services and drinking places (plus 33,000). Since a recent low in February 2010, food services has added 487,000 jobs.

In January, health care employment continued to grow (plus 31,000). Within the industry, hospitals and ambulatory care services both added 13,000 jobs.

Wholesale trade employment increased by 14,000 over the month. Since a recent employment low in May 2010, wholesale trade has added 144,000 jobs.

Employment in retail trade continued to trend up in January. Job gains in department stores (plus 19,000), health and personal care stores (plus 7,000), and automobile dealers (plus 7,000) were partially offset by losses in clothing and clothing accessory stores (minus 14,000). Since an employment trough in December 2009, retail trade has added 390,000 jobs.

In January, employment in information declined by 13,000, including a loss of 8,000 jobs in the motion picture and sound recording industry.

In the goods-producing sector, manufacturing added 50,000 jobs. Nearly all of the increase occurred in durable goods manufacturing, with job growth in fabricated metal products (plus 11,000), machinery (plus 11,000), and motor vehicles and parts (plus 8,000). Durable goods manufacturing has added 418,000 jobs over the past two years.

Employment in construction increased by 21,000 in January, following a gain of 31,000 in the previous month. Over the past two months, nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 30,000 jobs.

Mining added 10,000 jobs in January, with most of the gain in support activities for mining (plus 8,000). Since a recent low in October 2009, mining employment has expanded by 172,000.

Government employment changed little in January. Over the past 12 months, the sector has lost 276,000 jobs, with declines in local government; state government, excluding education; and the U.S. Postal Service.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged in January. The manufacturing workweek increased by 0.3 hour to 40.9 hours, and factory overtime increased by 0.1 hour to 3.4 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged up by 0.1 hour to 33.8 hours.

In January, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 4 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $23.29. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 1.9 percent. In January, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees edged up by 2 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $19.62.

U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo responds to jobs report

U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo, R-Ill., issued the following statement regarding the BLS’s jobs report:

It’s wonderful to see some people returning to work, but we need to do much more to strengthen our economy and help employers create even more jobs. While 243,000 Americans returned to work, the long-term unemployed — those without jobs for more than 6 months — remained essentially unchanged at 5.5 million people. There are still too many Americans who want to work but can’t find a job. My American Jobs Agenda would go a long way to help our employers expand and create jobs.

Things are looking much brighter in northern Illinois. Just last week, I was able to greet the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner when it stopped in Rockford on its maiden tour of international airports. The production of that amazing airplane will generate $16 billion in contracts for just one Rockford company — Hamilton Sundstrand — and many more local companies will benefit through sub-contracts. In addition, we were ecstatic to learn just yesterday that Chrysler — now owned by Italy’s Fiat — plans to add 1,800 jobs by this summer at the Belvidere Assembly plant to build the exciting new 2013 Dodge Dart, the first Chrysler vehicle to incorporate Fiat architecture, similar to that used in the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Things are definitely moving in the right direction, and I strongly encourage the Senate and the president to work with us and pass the nearly 30 House-passed jobs bills that are languishing without action.”

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