For the second month in a row, the U.S. Labor Department's monthly jobs report missed expectations, reporting just 113,000 new jobs for January. The unemployment rate dropped to 6.6 percent, and the labor force participation rate rose to 63.0 percent from 62.8 percent. In the lead-up to the report, economists expected to see about 180,000 new jobs and a drop in unemployment from 6.7 percent to 6.6 percent. In January, employment grew for the construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, and mining industries.
In December, the U.S. economy created just 75,000 new jobs, a figure that was revised up from 74,000 with today's report. That was way below expectations, which hovered around 200,000 new jobs. December's disappointing figures got a pass from some economists, who cited the awful weather that month.
As the Wall Street Journal noted, some were predicting a similar effect for January. Economists were also watching for the effects of Congress's decision to let long-term unemployment benefits expire for 1.3 million Americans at the end of December. The loss of those benefits could have, for example, taken a portion of those workers out of the labor force entirely, leading to a slight drop in the unemployment rate.
The average number of new jobs per month for all of 2013 was revised upward to 194,000, from 182,000.