The country’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.6 percent in January as a further 113,000 job opportunities were added by employers. This is according to the latest Labor Department report.The number of jobs added was significantly lower than the average monthly figure of 194,000 recorded during 2013 and was also well below the Wall Street projections of 175,000 new jobs for January.
Revised data, however, indicate that job growth for November last year was robust at 275,000. Overall, the department says that around 34,000 more job opportunities were created in 2013 than previously reported.
An analyst working for the Economist Intelligence Unit, Joseph Lake, said: “The U.S. job market has started 2014 with a whimper. Payroll growth has been lackluster over the past two months, raising concerns that the US economic recovery is faltering.”
In what is undoubtedly a milestone, however, the Labor Department’s study indicates that the American economy has now completely recovered all the job opportunities that were lost during the economic recession. The department’s statistics show that there are now 543,000 more job opportunities in the country than there were at the peak in December 2007 just before things started to turn bad.
The US Postal Service laid off around 12,000 people last month. This caused a significant decline in federal government jobs. In the retail industry, layoffs caused another 13,000 job opportunities to be lost after January retail sales were lower than expected.
Fortunately, strong growth in the construction industry more than offset these job losses, creating 48,000 new vacancies. There were also modest gains in other sectors of the economy.
A professor of economics at the University of Michigan, Justin Wolfers, said: “It was a moderately disappointing payroll report.”
Wolfers also said that if one looks at the payroll report, which obtains its data from a monthly survey of major businesses, a different picture emerges. He added: “The data suggests that recent trends of good but not great job growth is continuing.”
Despite the slowdown toward the end of 2013, it was a good year for jobs in general. In its annual benchmark revision, the Department of Labor found that 2.322 million jobs were added by businesses during the course of the year.
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