January Payrolls Below Forecasts; Prior Months Revised Upward

Nonfarm payrolls rose a smaller-than-expected 111,000 in January, but the government also revised sharply upward the number of new jobs created in November and December.

The newest report on the economy, released Friday by the Labor Department, suggested that the jobs market got off to a slower start in 2007 yet still remains in decent shape. The 111,000 in new jobs for January, well below estimates for a 155,000 increase, are consistent with the expectation that growth in the economy will moderate this year.

The department revised up its payroll total for the prior three months, with a gain of 206,000 jobs in December, initially reported as a gain of 167,000. It also raised its tally for November and October.

The nation's unemployment rate climbed to a four-month high of 4.6% as somewhat cautious employers added fewer new jobs to their payrolls in January. Analysts had said they anticipated that the overall unemployment rate would have held steady at 4.5%, the rate that was registered in December. Wage gains were modest.

"In January, job growth continued in several service-providing industries," Philip Rones, acting commissioner of the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics, said in a statement.

"In addition, construction employment rose over the month, while the number of
manufacturing jobs continued to decline," he said.

The department said the goods-producing sector gained 7,000 jobs in January, an
improvement from December's loss of 3,000, with the construction sector seeing
an increase of 22,000 jobs but manufacturing losing 16,000 jobs.

The services sector, generally the engine of job creation in the United States,
gained 104,000 jobs after increasing a revised 209,000 jobs in December.

In the sector, retailers lost 4,000 jobs, compared with a revised decrease of
13,800 the previous month, while professional and business services, such as
providers of consulting, accounting and computer systems, increased by 25,000
jobs after adding 74,000 jobs in December. Education and health services gained
31,000 jobs, and the government sector 14,000 jobs.

The department said average hourly earnings, a key gauge of inflation, rose 3
cents to $17.09 in January.

The manufacturing sector's average workweek came to 40.8 hours, down 0.2.