January 2016 employment: unemployment drops to 4.9%

‘The Employment Situation’ news release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy added 151,000 jobs in January while the unemployment rate dropped to 4.9 percent and the number of unemployed people fell to 7.8 million. The BLS report found that over the past 12 months, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons were down by 0.8 percentage point and 1.1 million. This is welcome news to many, suggesting that any current issues with the economy, such as stock market fluctuations, are not affecting employment. The report also indicates that there were 623,000 discouraged workers in January, essentially unchanged from a year earlier. Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. Employment rose in several industries, including retail trade, food services and drinking places, health care, and manufacturing:

  • Retail trade employment added 58,000 jobs in January, following essentially no change in December. Employment in retail trade has increased by 301,000 over the past 12 months.
  • Food services and drinking employment places employment rose by 47,000 jobs in January. Over the year, the industry has added 384,000 jobs.
  • Health care employment added 37,000 jobs in January. Health care has added 470,000 jobs over the past 12 months.
  • Manufacturing employment added 29,000 jobs in January, following little employment change in 2015.
The change in employment for November was revised from 252,000 jobs added to 280,000 jobs added and the change for December was revised from 292,000 jobs added to 262,000 jobs added. With these revisions, employment gains in November and December were 2,000 lower than previously reported.]]>

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