The Employment Situation – January 2011

Washington, D.C.—(ENEWSPF)—February 4, 2011.  The unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage point to 9.0 percent in January, while nonfarm payroll employment changed little (+36,000), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment rose in manufacturing and in retail trade but was down in construction and in transportation and warehousing. Employment in most other major industries changed little over the month. 

Household Survey Data 

The unemployment rate (9.0 percent) declined by 0.4 percentage point for the second month in a row. (See table A-1.) The number of unemployed persons decreased by about 600,000 in January to 13.9 million, while the labor force was unchanged. (Based on data adjusted for updated population controls. See table C.) 

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (8.8 percent), whites (8.0 percent), and Hispanics (11.9 percent) declined in January. The unemployment rates for adult women (7.9 percent), teenagers (25.7 percent), and blacks (15.7 percent) were little changed. The jobless rate for Asians was 6.9 percent, not seasonally adjusted. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.) 

The number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs fell from 8.9 to 8.5 million in January. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) edged down to 6.2 million and accounted for 43.8 percent of the unemployed. (See tables A-11 and A-12.) 

After accounting for the annual adjustment to the population controls, the employment-population ratio (58.4 percent) rose in January, and the labor force participation rate (64.2 percent) was unchanged. (See tables A-1 and C.) 

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) declined from 8.9 to 8.4 million in January. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job. (See table A-8.) 

In January, 2.8 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, up from 2.5 million a year earlier. (These data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. (See table A-16.) 

Among the marginally attached, there were 1.0 million discouraged workers in January, about the same as a year earlier. (These data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.8 million persons marginally attached to the labor force had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities. (See table A-16.) 

Establishment Survey Data 

Total nonfarm payroll employment changed little in January (+36,000). Manufacturing and retail trade added jobs over the month, while employment declined in construction and in transportation and warehousing. Since a recent low in February 2010, total payroll employment has increased by an average of 93,000 per month. (See table B-1.) 

Manufacturing added 49,000 jobs in January. Over the month, job gains occurred in durable goods, including motor vehicles and parts (+20,000), fabricated metal products (+13,000), machinery (+10,000), and computer and electronic products (+5,000). Employment in nondurable goods manufacturing declined by 13,000 over the month. Employment in retail trade rose by 28,000 in January, after changing little in December. Retail trade has added 123,000 jobs since its recent low point in December 2009. In January, employment in clothing stores increased by 15,000.  

Health care employment continued to trend up over the month (+11,000). Over the prior 12 months, health care had added an average of 22,000 jobs per month.  In January, construction employment declined by 32,000. Within construction, there were job losses among  onresidential specialty trade contractors (-22,000) and in construction of buildings (-10,000). Employment in construction may have been impacted by severe winter weather affecting parts of the country during the survey reference period. (See the Frequently Asked Questions.) 

Transportation and warehousing employment fell by 38,000 in January, reflecting a sharp decline among couriers and messengers (-45,000). Couriers and messengers had an unusually large job gain in December, followed by layoffs of a similar magnitude in January. Within professional and business services, employment in temporary help services was little changed in January (-1,000).  Temporary help had added an average of 25,000 jobs per month over the prior 12 months. 

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls fell by 0.1 hour to 34.2 hours in January. The manufacturing workweek for all employees rose by 0.1 hour to 40.5 hours, while factory overtime remained at 3.1 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls declined by 0.1 hour to 33.4 hours; the workweek fell by 1.0 hour in construction, likely reflecting severe winter weather. (See tables B-2 and B-7.) 

In January, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 8 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $22.86. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 1.9 percent. In January, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees rose by 10 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $19.34. (See tables B-3 and B-8.) 

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for November was revised from +71,000 to +93,000, and the change for December was revised from +103,000 to +121,000. Monthly revisions result from additional sample reports and the monthly recalculation of seasonal factors. The annual benchmark process also contributed to these revisions. 

To view the tables referenced above, see: