The U.S. added 49,000 jobs in January and the unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent, 0.4 percentage point drop, according to data released Friday by the Labor Department.
The uptick in jobs shows the recovery from the coronavirus recession kicked back into gear last month after December job losses, but the report underscored the deep damage yet to be repaired from the pandemic-driven economic crisis.
January’s drop in the unemployment rate and meager increase in hiring defied the consensus expectations of economists, who projected a gain of 100,000 jobs and an unchanged jobless rate.
Solid increases in professional services and education jobs were dampened by losses across a broad sector of the economy, said the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Notable job losses hit the leisure and hospitality, retail, health care, transportation and warehousing industries, according to BLS.
The national decline in unemployment largely passed over Black and Asian workers, whose jobless rates were little changed. The national labor force participation rate stayed even at 61.4 percent, but the percentage of women in the labor force fell by 0.2 percent, the first decline since September.
“This jobs report suggests signs of a nascent overall recovery, but food insecurity, costs of caregiving, persistently high unemployment, and small business stagnation necessitate emergency relief that targets those being left behind – especially women, people of color, and lower income workers,” said Nicole Goldin nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, in a Friday analysis.
“Without further stimulus, our ability to get kids back in school and more fully reopen the economy will stymie consumer confidence, hiring, and investment.”