Economy Adds 157,000 Jobs In January

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The U.S. economy added 157,000 jobs in January, according to an initial Bureau of Labor Statistics report, matching analyst expectations and suggesting a continuing economic recovery.

The payroll employment figure, and particularly the revisions to previous surveys, suggest economic uncertainty created by the fiscal cliff, the debt limit, and sequestration, along with outside forces, haven’t reduced the rate of economic growth in the country.

It also suggests a report this week from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which estimated that the economy contracted in the last quarter, will be revised upward.BLS now estimates that the economy added a robust 247,000 jobs in November, up significantly from its first revision of 161,000 jobs, and even more from its highly uncertain initial estimate of 146,000. The revisions also indicate that the economy added 196,000 in December, also more than the initial estimate of 155,000.

The unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9 percent, according to the report, a tenth of a percent higher than it was in the December survey, reflecting among other things a return to the labor force by people left jobless after hurricane Sandy.

A continuing, and perhaps accelerating recovery highlights the dangers of sequestration — the automatic, across the board cuts to defense and domestic spending set to take effect at the end of the month.

The big sector-wide winners in January were construction, which added 28,000 jobs fueled by a housing market recovery, and health care, which continued to grow robustly, adding 23,000 jobs last month.

But reduced overall government spending continues to be a drag on the recovery. The public sector lost 9,000 jobs last month, including 2000 teachers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com
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