Feb. 4, 2013 – NAFCU Staff Economist Curt Long said January’s job report contains some encouraging signs that the labor market is “on more solid footing than previously thought,” including sizable upward revisions to prior data.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday reported that non-farm payrolls in January were up 157,000, slightly below expectations. More encouraging, Long said, was that December’s numbers were revised up 41,000 to 196,000 and November's were revised up 86,000 to 247,000.
Though the expectation was for a larger overall increase in January, Long said that gains for the month came in sectors that are critical to the recovery. The 32,000 jobs gained in the retail trade sector “indicates that retailers are expecting consumer demand to ramp up in spite of increased payroll taxes,” Long said. The 28,000 gain in the construction sector is also encouraging since it “underscores recent improvements in the housing market,” he said.
The unemployment rate in January ticked up from 7.8 percent to 7.9 percent, as 143,000 individuals entered the labor force to look for jobs.
Long added that employment “should continue to make slow and steady gains in the first half of the year before picking up the pace in the second half.”