8 Feb 2014

US jobs growth lower than expected

2:14 pm on 8 February 2014

For the second month in a row the US economy has added fewer jobs than expected.

The US Labor Department reported the economy added 113,000 jobs in January, fewer than the increase of about 180,000 new jobs economists had predicted.

A worker at a sporting goods factory in Ohio.

Photo: AFP

However, the unemployment rate fell to 6.6%, the lowest level since October 2008.

The jobless figures will raise concerns that, after strong growth in the second half of 2013, the US economic recovery is beginning to lose its steam, the BBC reports.

The unemployment rate is calculated from a different survey to the jobs figure. The rate is based on a survey of households, while the jobs figure - known as non-farm payrolls - is based on a survey of employers.

December's surprisingly weak payrolls figure was revised up only modestly to 75,000, from 74,000.

The construction industry, most vulnerable to the impact of bad weather, added 48,000 jobs in January, indicating that while the weather may have been responsible for December's weak figures, it does not appear to have been a factor in January.

Manufacturing hiring also picked up, adding 21,000 jobs.

Another positive factor from the report was that more Americans started looking for, and found, work.

But there were declines in hiring in retail, utilities, government, and education and health employment.

US stock markets shrugged off the news - with shares on Wall Street rising in early trading.