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U.S. Unemployment Rate Slips Below 10%

The unemployment rate fell from 10 to 9.7 % in January, as nonfarm payroll employment—down 20,000—remained unchanged from the previous month. This according to a recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor.

Employment fell in construction and in transportation and warehousing, while temporary help services and retail trade added jobs, the Bureau of Labor report showed. Since the start of the recession in December 2007, payroll employment has fallen by 8.4 million. Over the last three months, however, employment has shown little net change.

Following is a detailed breakdown of the categories:

Construction employment declined by 75,000 in January, with nonresidential specialty trade contractors (-48,000) accounting for the majority of the decline. Since December 2007, employment in construction has fallen by 1.9 million.

Transportation and warehousing employment fell by 19,000, due to a large job loss among couriers and messengers (-23,000).

Employment in manufacturing was little changed in January (11,000). After experiencing steep job losses earlier in the recession, employment declines moderated considerably in the second half of 2009. Job gains of 23,000 in motor vehicles and parts and plastics and rubber products (6,000) offset small job losses elsewhere in the industry.

In January, temporary help services added 52,000 jobs. Since reaching a low point in September 2009, temporary help services employment has risen by 247,000.

Retail trade employment rose by 42,000 in January, after showing little change in the prior 2 months. Job gains occurred in January among food stores (14,000), clothing stores (13,000), and general merchandise retailers (10,000). Meanwhile, health care employment continued to trend up in January. Ambulatory health care services added 15,000 jobs over the month.

Lastly, the federal government added 33,000 jobs, including 9,000 temporary positions for Census 2010. Employment in state and local governments, excluding education, continued to trend down.
 

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