U.S. Payrolls Rise Less Than Forecast; Jobless Rate Falls

Posted by Bloomberg

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Payrolls in the U.S. rose less than projected in January as retailers cut back after the holidays and government hiring fell. The unemployment rateunexpectedly declined to 6.6 percent.

The 113,000 gain in employment followed a revised 75,000 increase the prior month, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of economists in a Bloomberg survey called for a 180,000 advance. The unemployment ratedropped to the lowest level since October 2008 even as more Americans entered the labor force.

Retailers and government agencies cut payrolls by the most in more than a year, while construction firms and manufacturers boosted employment. Broad-based improvement in job growth is needed to help generate bigger wage gains and spur the consumer spending that accounts for almost 70 percent of the economy.

“It’s another disappointment, but it’s not anything disastrous,” said Julia Coronado, New York-based chief economist for North America at BNP Paribas and a former Federal Reserve economist, who accurately forecast the jobless rate. “We’re still in muddle-along territory rather than take-off mode. There isn’t the kind of momentum in hiring.”

Stock-index futures rose as investors weighed the report. The contract on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index expiring next month climbed 0.6 percent to 1,777.3 at 8:57 a.m. in New York.

Today’s report showed 262,000 Americans were not at work because of inclement weather in January, little changed from the same month last year, suggesting conditions played a more limited role than in December. In the Jan. 10 release of the prior month’s data, the Labor Department had said poor weather kept 273,000 people from work, the most for any December since 1977.