Maybe it’s just the frigid winter weather, but another surprisingly weak jobs report is fueling worry that the economy is slowing down.
The January jobs report showed that nonfarm payrolls expanded by 113,000 in the month, the Department of Labor said Friday. Although that is a sharp increase from December, when payrolls increased by a shockingly low 74,000 (and just revised to 75,000), it was far short of estimates for 180,000 new jobs.
The unemployment rate, which is derived from a separate survey, slipped from 6.7% to 6.6%.
Prior to the falloff in December and January, the labor market averaged a gain of 214,000 over the four previous months. Record cold weather across most of the country is thought to have weighed on payrolls, but other economic data have softened recently too, adding to anxiety over the pace of recovery.
However, as always, whether folks actually landed jobs greatly depended on the industry they were targeting. Here’s a look into the January jobs report:
January Jobs Report: Industry Highlights
Drilling down into the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ January Employment Situation Report showed areas of strength in construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade and mining.
In a data point that questions the effects of winter weather on hiring, one of the best places for job seekers last month was in construction, which added 48,000 jobs in January. Hiring in the construction industry was led by both residential and nonresidential building and nonresidential specialty trade contractors. Heavy and civil engineering construction also added positions.
Manufacturing payrolls showed significant growth, with the January jobs report showing 21,000 jobs created during the month. Top areas for hiring in the manufacturing sector were machinery, wood products and motor vehicles and parts. By way of comparison, manufacturing added an average of 7,000 jobs a month in 2013.
Leisure and hospitality employment continued to trend up over the month, the Labor Department said, but the 24,000 new jobs created in January was well below the average of 38,000 per month in 2013.
Similarly, employment in professional and business services accelerated from the prior month, with the industry adding 36,000 jobs thanks to professional and technical services. However, the industry added an average of 55,000 jobs per month in 2013.
Wholesale trade showed signs of life, as gains in nondurable goods had the sector show payroll growth of 14,000 jobs in January.
On the other side of the January jobs report, the post-holiday selling season hangover led to a loss of 22,000 jobs at sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores. Food and beverage stores also shed workers, as payrolls declined by 5,000.
The telecommunications industry was another area where it was bad to look for a job in January, as payrolls contracted by 10,200.
Hospitals and nursing and residential care facilities each shed nearly 5,000 positions in January, even as employment in the broader healthcare industry was essentially unchanged. Healthcare added an average of 17,000 a month last year.
Also weighing heavily on jobs creation were cutbacks by governments from the federal to local level. Total government payrolls declined by 29,000 in January, led by a loss of 9,000 positions at the postal service, and a drop of 9,000 in education.