12.3 million remain unemployed in U.S., as unemployment rate remains unchanged at 7.9 percent

Online Staff Report

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 157,000 in January, and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 7.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Friday, Feb. 1. Retail trade, construction, health care, and wholesale trade added jobs over the month.

The number of unemployed people, at 12.3 million, was little changed in January. The unemployment rate was 7.9 percent, and has been at or near that level since September 2012.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (7.3 percent), adult women (7.3 percent), teen-agers (23.4 percent), whites (7.0 percent), blacks (13.8 percent) and Hispanics (9.7 percent) showed little or no change in January. The jobless rate for Asians was 6.5 percent, little changed from a year earlier.

In January, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was about unchanged at 4.7 million and accounted for 38.1 percent of the unemployed.

Both the employment-population ratio (58.6 percent) and the civilian labor force participation rate (63.6 percent) were unchanged in January.

The number of people employed part-time for economic reasons, at 8 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, 2.4 million people were marginally attached to the labor force, down by 366,000 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 804,000 discouraged workers in January, a decline of 255,000 from a year earlier. Discouraged workers are people not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.6 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.

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 157,000 in January. In 2012, employment growth averaged 181,000 per month. In January, job gains occurred in retail trade, construction, health care and wholesale trade, while employment edged down in transportation and warehousing.

Employment in retail trade rose by 33,000 in January, compared with an average monthly gain of 20,000 in 2012. Within the industry, job growth continued in January in motor vehicle and parts dealers (plus 7,000), electronics and appliance stores (plus 5,000) and clothing stores (plus 10,000).

In January, employment in construction increased by 28,000. Nearly all of the job growth occurred in specialty trade contractors (plus 26,000), with the gain about equally split between residential and nonresidential specialty trade contractors. Since reaching a low in January 2011, construction employment has grown by 296,000, with one-third of the gain occurring in the last four months. However, the January 2013 level of construction employment remained about 2 million below its previous peak level in April 2006.

Health care continued to add jobs in January (plus 23,000). Within health care, job growth occurred in ambulatory health care services (plus 28,000), which includes doctors’ offices and outpatient care centers. This gain was partially offset by a loss of 8,000 jobs in nursing and residential care facilities. Over the year, health care employment has increased by 320,000.

Employment increased in wholesale trade (plus 15,000) in January, with most of the increase occurring in its nondurable goods component (plus 11,000). Since the recent low point in May 2010, wholesale trade has added 291,000 jobs.

Mining employment increased (plus 6,000) over the month; employment in this industry has risen by 23,000 over the past three months.

Employment edged down in transportation and warehousing in January (minus 14,000). Couriers and messengers lost 19,000 jobs over the month, following strong seasonal hiring in November and December. Air transportation employment decreased by 5,000 in January.

Manufacturing employment was essentially unchanged in January and has changed little, on net, since July 2012.

Employment in other major industries, including financial activities, professional and businesses services, leisure and hospitality, and government, showed little change over the month.

In January, the average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.4 hours. The manufacturing workweek edged down by 0.1 hour to 40.6 hours, and factory overtime was unchanged at 3.3 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 0.1 hour to 33.6 hours.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 4 cents to $23.78. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.1 percent. In January, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 5 cents to $19.97.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for November was revised from plus 161,000 to plus 247,000, and the change for December was revised from plus 155,000 to plus 196,000. Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from businesses since the last published estimates and the monthly recalculation of seasonal factors. The annual benchmark process also contributed to these revisions.

The unemployment rate for the Rockford metropolitan area was 11.2 percent in December, the second-highest of the state’s 12 metro areas. The January metro area report from the Illinois Department of Employment Security will be released Thursday, March 14. The statewide unemployment rate in Illinois was 8.6 percent in December. Statewide numbers for January will be released Thursday, March 7.

Posted Feb. 1, 2013

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