Job Growth Still Slow, But Unemployment Rate Dips Again

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Note: This post is being updated as the morning continues.

The nation's unemployment rate slipped to 6.6 percent in January from 6.7 percent a month before, but employers added only 113,000 jobs to their payrolls last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday morning.

The jobless rate figure was expected. The job growth number, however, was well below the 185,000 that economist expected.

What's more, BLS said it still believes job growth was even more disappointing in December. When it initially reported that only 74,000 jobs had been added to payrolls during that month, it was hoped that the figure might later be revised upward. But today's report showed almost no change: BLS now believes 75,000 jobs were added in December.

Our original post — 'Nervousness' About Economy Ahead Of Today's Jobs Report — previewed the report:

As we wait for this morning's much-anticipated report about job growth and unemployment in January, here's a preview that draws from the conversation NPR's John Ydstie had today with Morning Edition host Renee Montagne.

Economists expect to hear that job growth was stronger last month than in December, John said. Their prediction: The Bureau of Labor Statistics will say about 185,000 jobs were added to public and private payrolls in January.

In its initial report about December, BLS said just 74,000 jobs were added that month. That was far fewer than expected. It's important to bear in mind, though, that the figure could be revised in today's report.

If there were about 185,000 more jobs in January than in December, that would mean growth last month was about in line with the average pace over the last 12 months, John said.

But as he added, "there's nervousness about where we are right now."

Manufacturing may be "losing steam" in the U.S. and China, John said. There have been currency problems in emerging markets such as Turkey and Argentina. That has led some investors to pull their money out of those countries — places that in recent years had been helping to shore up economic growth around the world.

And, financial markets have been worried lately about how the Federal Reserve's decision to begin scaling back the amount of stimulus it gives the economy will affect growth in coming months.

As we said Thursday, economists also expect to hear that the unemployment rate either stayed at 6.7 percent in January or perhaps ticked down to 6.6 percent. A dip might have been at least partly due to a large number of people leaving the labor force, either because they retired or because they gave up looking for work.

The report is due at 8:30 a.m. ET. We'll update with highlights and analyses.

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