Goldman’s Hatzius on jobs: ‘We’ve hit a pothole’

Jobs report not a disaster: Hatzius

January's employment report was a "disappointment, but not a massive one," Goldman Sachs' chief economist told CNBC on Friday, and represents a bump in the road rather than a deeper problem.

Goldman Sachs' Jan Hatzius said the 113,000 jobs added to the U.S. economy last month signaled that national output growth could be slowing down. The sluggish job growth may shave off a percentage point in average monthly GDP during the first half of 2014 compared with the 3.7 percent GDP pace the U.S. saw during the second half of last year, he said.

(Read more: Fed on a wire: What to make of the jobs report?)

"To me it looks like we have hit a pothole and the inventory moves can give you those potholes," Hatzius said on "Squawk on the Street." "You had a lot more growth in the second half of last year than I think anybody expected. ... Overall I think we're in a better place from a growth perspective than we were two to three years ago."

Jan Hatzius, chief economist of Goldman Sachs.
Jonathan Fickles | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Hatzius blamed bloated inventories for the slow job growth, rather than the frigid weather that many credited with keeping consumers from shopping in December and January.

"It's an inventory story," he said. "I don't think there was much weather in this employment report, but clearly January and February numbers are going to be affected."

(Read more: Weak jobs number alone won't sway Fed: Fisher)

Last month's job numbers came in much lower than consensus estimates, which forecast 180,000 new jobs. Hatzius was more optimistic, expecting 200,000 new jobs. Goldman Sachs correctly predicted the unemployment rate would dip a single percentage point to 6.6 percent, according to a research note.

Halftime traders dissect jobs

Hatzius said changes in the labor participation rate showed positive signs, and that the unemployment rate finally bucked a trend of declining because of people leaving the labor force.

(Read more: Jobs report too 'weird' to just blame the weather)

"That was unambiguously strong," Hatzius said. "The unemployment rate declined. It declined for the right reasons. You got a rebound in labor force participation, and a big household employment gain."

U.S. stock markets seemed to give the lackluster jobs report a pass, the second weak employment data set in two months. Benchmark averages had risen slightly by noon Friday. Hatzius said while low inflation and wage growth indicate more slack in the labor market, the stock market should remain a friendly place for investors.

"We think that growth is going to be better than it has been over the past few years," Hatzius said of the economy. Fed Chair Janet "Yellen is going to want to nurse the economy back to health and higher levels of employment."

—By CNBC's Jeff Morganteen. Follow him on Twitter at @jmorganteen and get the latest stories from "Squawk on the Street."

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