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157,000 New Jobs, but Jobless Rate Moves to 7.9%

157,000 New Jobs, but Jobless Rate Moves to 7.9%

While the nation’s economy added 157,000 new jobs in January, the job creation wasn’t enough to prevent the unemployment rate from slightly ticking up from December’s 7.8% to 7.9% last month, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The 157,000 jobs created reflect 35 straight months of positive job growth but also show the pace of job growth is not quick enough to make a significant dent in the jobless rate. It also demonstrates the need for Congress to focus on investment in programs and policies that focus on job creation, especially manufacturing and infrastructure jobs, as opposed to the austerity/deficit reduction hysteria that’s prevalent on Capitol Hill. Says Christine L. Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project (NELP):

Job growth in January was good, but growth overall remains too slow to provide work for all who want and need it. Unfortunately, Congress appears once again poised to make matters worse, with automatic budget cuts that will inflict harm on the economy—and America’s working families.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement:

We cannot sit by as austerity leaves far too many Americans who are ready to work abandoned by an under-performing job market. Make no mistake: we have made great strides and are now heading in the right direction. President Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress have pressed for much needed reforms and policies to encourage growth. But we cannot fix our broken economy and labor market until we overcome senseless fiscal austerity policies that continue to choke off job creation.

The AFL-CIO is urging lawmakers to close loopholes for Wall Street and the richest 2% of Americans and to oppose benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid instead of the automatic cuts.

The biggest job gains were in retail trade (33,000), construction (28,000), health care (23,000) and wholesale trade (15,000).  Employment in manufacturing trades and the public sector was essentially unchanged in December.

The unemployment rates for adult men (7.3%), adult women (7.3%), teenagers (23.4%), whites (7.0%), blacks (13.8%) and Hispanics (9.7%) showed little or no change in January.

The number of long-term unemployed (those who are jobless for 27 weeks or more) dropped slightly to 4.7 million from December's 4.8 million. The fiscal cliff agreement President Obama signed in early January continues the federal long-term unemployment insurance benefits program.

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