Friday's nonfarm payrolls report, with its anemic job creation but falling unemployment rate, left the market confused and likely will only add to the discussion over the Federal Reserve's future plans.
Investors and economists parsed out the details, veering between optimism that the jobless rate finally fell—to 6.6 percent—while the labor force participation rate rose, and pessimism that there appeared to be little fire otherwise in the job creation engine. There also was growing agreement that the lackluster addition of 113,000 jobs could not be attributed solely to bad weather.
"The January payroll report gives us some confidence in our expectation for how the year will play out—growth without acceleration," said Steve Blitz, chief economist at ITG Investment Research.
"Bottom line, there are excuses, such as the rough weather," economists at Strategas said in a note. "But the knee-jerk reaction is likely to be to question the strength of U.S. economic momentum. We do not agree with this knee-jerk interpretation."
Whatever the consensus, the debate is far from settled about the state of the U.S. economy. CNBC's Jeff Cox and Patti Domm hash it out for NetNet TV.