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Jobs added in January as unemployment rate dips

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WASHINGTON (Feb. 7, 2014) — Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 113,000 jobs in January, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The total unemployment rate inched down to 6.6 percent, the BLS said. The labor force participation rate rose slightly during the month, to 63.0 percent, and the number of long-term unemployed fell by 232,000.

The largest gains by employment sector were in professional and business services (up 36,000 jobs), leisure and hospitality (up 24,000), manufacturing (up 21,000) and wholesale trade (up 14,000). Retail trade and federal government employment fell, however.

Harsh weather conditions and a lack of qualified applicants for available jobs have been major factors in the small-business jobs outlook, according to William C. Dunkelberg, chief economist for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).

“GDP growth will probably be sluggish in the first quarter, and consequently job creation will remain muted,” Mr. Dunkelberg said.

Both the Alliance for American Manufacturing and the U.S. Business and Industry Council (UBIC) were mildly encouraged by the manufacturing jobs report, but added caveats.

“It’s still far from a resurgence, but the jobs picture in manufacturing is certainly better than it was last decade,” said AAM President Scott Paul. “And the latest jobs report offers fresh evidence that it is possible to create manufacturing jobs in America again.

“(But) even though manufacturing may be one of the brighter spots in this jobs report, we’re still well below the pace needed to achieve the president’s goal of adding 1 million such jobs in his second term.”

USBIC Research Fellow Alan Tonelson said “manufacturing employment continued a modest warm streak in January, Nonetheless, the sector remains a major employment laggard during the economic recovery.

“If history is a guide, the kinds of new trade agreements President Obama could complete with fast-track negotiating authority from Congress will put further downward pressure on manufacturing job creation.”

The BLS issued its latest jobs report Feb. 7, the day after the U.S. Senate failed by one vote to end a Republican filibuster on a bill that would have restored emergency unemployment benefits to more than 1.7 million Americans. The emergency benefits ended last Dec. 31.

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