Economists see encouraging signs in jobs report
WASHINGTON - Some economists are seeing encouraging signs in the January jobs report -- even though hiring was weak for a second straight month.
The government reported today that employers added 113,000 jobs last month. That compares with an average monthly gain of 194,000 last year. The sluggish growth in jobs could undermine hopes for faster economic growth this year.
But economists are expecting hiring to return to healthier levels in coming months.
Gary Burtless, an economist at Brookings Institution, points out that manufacturers, construction firms and mining and drilling companies added a strong 76,000 jobs combined last month. And he says you don't usually see those industries expand unless the economy is in "fairly healthy shape."
Wall Street also appears satisfied with the report. Stocks have been higher in morning trading.
Despite the weak hiring numbers, the unemployment rate slipped to 6.6 percent from 6.7 percent in December, reaching its lowest rate in more than five years. More people began looking for work in January, a sign that they were optimistic about finding jobs. And some of them did, in fact, find work.