Unemployment Rate At Lowest Level Since 2009, Job Growth Still Anemic

The January jobs report is, in a word, disappointing.

Another month, another mixed jobs report:

WASHINGTON — The unemployment rate dropped sharply last month to 9 percent, the lowest level in nearly two years. But the economy generated only 36,000 net new jobs, the fewest in four months.

The January report illustrates how job growth remains the economy’s weakest spot, even as other economic indicators point to a recovery that is strengthening.

Friday’s report offered a conflicting picture on hiring. Unemployment fell because the Labor Department’s household survey determined that more than a half-million people without jobs found work. The department conducts a separate survey of businesses, which showed tepid job creation. The two surveys sometimes diverge.

Severe winter weather likely reduced the number of jobs created. Harsh snowstorms last month cut into construction employment, which fell by 32,000, the most since May. Transportation and warehousing also fell by 38,000 – the most in a year.

In one bright spot, manufacturing added 49,000 jobs, the most since August 1998. And retailers added 28,000 jobs, the largest number in a year.

The unemployment rate has fallen by eight-tenths of a percentage point in the past two months. That’s the steepest two-month drop in nearly 53 years.

But part of that drop has occurred as many of those out of work gave up on their job searches. When unemployed people stop looking for jobs, the government no longer counts them as unemployed.

Other analysts seem to agree with the idea that January’s weather had an impact on hiring:

“My view is that the storms interrupted the hiring process. They have not diminished the demand for labor, but made it that much more difficult for both the job seekers and employers to consummate the hiring transaction,” said Patrick O’Keefe, head of economic research at J.H. Cohn in Roseland, New Jersey, before the data was released.

Even taking the weather into account, though, it’s clear that job growth isn’t anywhere near where it needs to be if the long-term unemployed are going to find work again.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. mpw280 says:

    As the stats say, more quit looking for work than found work, but it is counted as a plus by the government. As my stats teacher said the first day of class: Figures don’t lie but liars can figure. mpw

  2. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    Hmmm…. “The unemployment rate has fallen by eight-tenths of a percentage point in the past two months.”

    See there, you give control of the House to the GOP and things start getting better immediately.

  3. anjin-san says:

    > it’s clear that job growth isn’t anywhere near where it needs to be if the long-term unemployed are going to find work again.

    Well, it’s clear that cleaning up the disaster that the Bush admin left for Obama is a huge job that is for sure.

    Commentary from outside the Fox News echo chamber:

    “Snow suppressed payrolls but look past it and the labor market is clearly improving,” said Ward McCarthy, chief financial economist at Jefferies & Co. in New York. McCarthy projected an 85,000 gain in January employment.

    “We’re moving in the right direction, though payrolls are still at extremely low levels,” Omair Sharif, an economist at RBS Securities Inc. in Stamford, Connecticut, said before the report. “We’re just digging ourselves out of a real big hole and it’s going to take time.”

  4. Drew says:

    Looking at the entrails is covered at zerohedge and here:

    http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/EMRATIO

  5. Drew says:

    BTW –

    I share anji-san’s enthusiasm. Why, if an anemic 36,000 jobs can lower the unemployment rate by .4%, just think how low it will be when we only generate 16,000……….

  6. ponce says:

    “As the stats say, more quit looking for work than found work, but it is counted as a plus by the government. As my stats teacher said the first day of class: Figures don’t lie but liars can figure. mpw”

    We use the same stats for Republicans and Democrats, mpw.

    You a Glenn Beck watcher?

  7. G.A.Phillips says:

    9% lol…….

  8. Steven Plunk says:

    As a businessman I have to ask what good news is there that would prompt hiring or expansion? There is none. Energy costs are rising, regulations are still increasing despite a change in political winds, talk of inflation continues, state budgets are such a mess we can expect higher taxes, and the housing market is not rebounding. We’re as bad off now as we were two years ago.

    Most of us out here don’t give a rip what the economists say or how Wall Street is doing. Higher stocks prices don’t pay the bills and generally lead to higher gas prices. Like a pressure relief valve the speculation in oil and energy will diffuse any momentum the economy generates.

    The malaise is likely to continue until we get some good things happening for business. For years businesses have been maligned as parasites yet now we see it was the parasitic public sector that bled us dry and nearly killed the host.

    The solutions are simple. Reduce regulations to allow business to conduct business properly. Expand energy exploration and development. Not wasteful green energy but old fashioned coal, oil, and natural gas. North Dakota has low unemployment for a reason and we could see that across the country from California to New York. We need to renegotiate public pensions that essentially represent fraudulent conveyance leaving the future taxpayers paying but getting nothing in return. The list goes on but the common thread in these solutions is the government caused the problems and the government needs to get out of the way. American business generates jobs and wealth, not the government.

  9. ponce says:

    “The solutions are simple. ”

    Maybe the problem is the current crop of American business people just aren’t that good at their jobs.

    There’s plenty of data to support this hypothesis.

    We need to get some of the folks behind China’s continued 10% growth even during a recession to move here and show our losers how it’s done.

  10. michael reynolds says:

    Patrick:

    Can you explain wether you are an idiot, or a satirist pretending to be an idiot? I think a lot of us are unsure.

  11. michael reynolds says:

    Steve Plunk:

    So you’re Jimmy Carter now? Got yourself a case of “malaise,” do you? Talk of this, and worry about that, oogedy boogedy, there’s a bad moon a risin’.

    I am always rather fascinated by the endless self-pity of self-identified businessmen like you and Drew. It’s one big “Waaah.” Ever consider that maybe you’re not very good at business? Or in the wrong business?

    I sat in a meeting yesterday pitching a new business model for entertainment and people were falling all over us. Then had an amazing meeting with a guy who has developed an iPhone app that will absolutely astound people — it’s legal extortion on a massive scale. There is actually quite a lot going on. I’m sitting here in what is supposed to be a dying industry (publishing) and if I could create two clones of myself I could give them both more work than they could handle. My wife’s in the same position.

    So maybe it’s your business. Or maybe it’s you. But I’m not cowering in fear of the next rumor of a talk of an omen of some undefined bad thing that will happen. Maybe you should stop letting Fox News fill your head with fear-mongering, man up and go out and make some business.

  12. […] Unemployment Rate At Lowest Level Since 2009, Job Growth Still Anemic (outsidethebeltway.com) […]

  13. G.A.Phillips says:

    Not that you asked Harry, but I am an idiot pretending to be a satirist who is pretending to be an idiot.

    I need a job! Why clone? I could shave my noodle, put on 40 pounds, and hit myself in the head and face with a hammer a bunch of times……:)

  14. michael reynolds says:

    GA:

    Dude, I swear to God, if you could bang out 200 pages a month I’d hire you, crazy and all.

  15. Steven Plunk says:

    Michael, Maybe you shouldn’t speculate quite as much as you do. You see it’s not just me but most American business that feel this way. I borrowed the famous word ‘malaise’ as it seems appropriate to our times once again.

    Instead of worrying about me how about discussing the points I made? I often wonder why the Lefty contingent ignores the statements presented and instead likes to demean those who post them. My conclusion is when they have nothing of substance they just bark.

    I don’t watch Fox, listen to Beck, or worship Rush so just lay that tired excuse aside. Trying to marginalize an opinion or different perspective is just so weak. Substance, my friend, substance is what you should be posting. The facts support every assertion I made so if you can counter those please do. I know your modus operandi is to get personal and try to bully people but it is an old and worn out dance.

  16. michael reynolds says:

    Steve:

    You didn’t make any factual statements I could discuss. It was a lot of feeling. It was fear. It was anticipation of events that have not yet occurred. Which you summarized as malaise. In other words, you’re talking about a state of mind, so I was responding exactly on point: change your state of mind. Stop being panicked.

  17. G.A.Phillips says:

    ***Dude, I swear to God, if you could bang out 200 pages a month I’d hire you, crazy and all.***

    I got white smoke:) But I”ll bet your still gonna need a ****load of editors, lol… more hires……

    Then again, I would hate to be the one to prove that the monkey and keyboard theory is false…..

  18. Wayne says:

    Steven Plunk solutions are spot on.

    As for Ponce comment about China, China has been allowed to build power plants, explore for oil even in the Gulf of Mexico, doesn’t have oppressive business and labor regulations and government leaders trying to tear down “evil” business. Yes there is something to be learned from them.

    We have some of the best people and businesses in the world. We just need to get our government out of the way.

  19. c.red says:

    Yet US businesses, including Oil and various energy companies, are making record profits and the stock market is steadily rising. How is the government in the way again?

  20. c.red says:

    Yet US businesses, including Oil and various energy companies, are making record profits and the stock market is steadily rising. How is the government in the way again?

  21. sam says:

    @Wayne

    “China has been allowed to build power plants, explore for oil even in the Gulf of Mexico, doesn’t have oppressive business and labor regulations and government leaders trying to tear down “evil” business. ”

    Well, they do have a direct way of dealing with evil businessmen, as opposed to “evil” businessmen:

    China executes 2 businessmen over melamine milk deaths

    Chinese businessman executed

    I understand the government charges the surviving family members for the bullets used.

    Hmmm.

  22. michael reynolds says:

    sam:

    If only Lehman and Citibank and AT&T (Yes, I own an iPhone) were Chinese corporations.

  23. ponce says:

    “We have some of the best people and businesses in the world. We just need to get our government out of the way.”

    What makes you say that?

    I see no proof America’s business people are above average in any way.

    In fact, the data suggests quite the opposite.

    As a class they seem to be dim, unimaginative, self-absorbed drones dependent on massive federal, state and local government handouts to keep their dubious enterprises afloat.

    America is living off the crumbling financial infrastructure built long ago by our betters and thanks to our crappy current business class we’re only a few years away from the day when China surpasses us economically and never looks back,.

  24. G.A.Phillips says:

    China sucks!

  25. Steven Plunk says:

    c red, Valid question. Large corporations may be making profits but the small businesses that form the majority of employers are not. Oil is riding the wave of high prices created by OPEC, speculators, and the anti energy policies of the Obama administration. Companies like GE are nothing less than rent seekers using government contracts to enrich itself.

    Michael, I’m not panicked just realistic. My facts you conveniently ignore are business over regulation and anti business government sentiment, lack of a genuine energy policy and the effects of high energy costs on the economy, the growing threat of unfunded public sector pension obligations and the societal costs they will impose. Could you not see those? They are not feelings on my part but facts. Keep dancing.

  26. c.red says:

    Steve P – You are not supposed to deflate my righteous anger by saying something that I essentially agree with wholeheartedly.

    That being said, I pretty certain that we disagree on the cause and the solution. I would say small business is being strangled by large business using government ties to stifle start-up competition, which is the major source of the regulations you are complaining about. (How many bills from either party didn’t have a host of big business Lobbiests involved in determining the final bill if not outright writing the bill?) My opinion is that you don’t solve that by weakening the government, it is the only player that has a chance to constrain big business overreach.

    A solution is to reduce those big semi-monopolies and encourage active competition again, possibly involving going back to very limited corporate charters or possibly not.

    It is not going to be pretty and it is not going to be quick and I’m not even sure it can be done with Washington the way it is (and that is generally a bi partisan complaint.) The recent SC decision regarding corporate money in election was a big step back. Obama’s call for regulation overhaul MAY (emphasize) be a step in the right direction.

  27. Drew says:

    I’m chuckling. Just as in the early 80’s – and backed by the now defunct Lester Thurow – the notion was we had to be Japanese. I guess we now need to be Chinese!!

    I applaud you, Michael, if you have a good idea. But show me the money, and show me the job count before declaring victory. By the way, I’ll compare my profits creation and job creation vs yours anyday.

    As for Steve Plunk’s comments, he’s actually right on the mark. Unless you want to make the case that the vast majority of businessmen in the US are incompetant wimps, and only children’s books writers have the answer, you need to come to grips with what he’s saying. And further, you must come to grips with how these incompetant wimps created the greatest economic story in human history, and basically control the employment situation.

    As to the malaise, that was just stupid commentary. The issues Steve cited are on the minds – in fact it would be a combination of incompetancy and abrogation of fiduciary duty – to not be thinking about these. Interestingly, despite the comments about no evidence, there was an article just today in the WSJ that is an illustration of the issues at hand. China is of course, global warmers aside, using more and more coal. US coal mining cos would like to ship through Washington State. Naturally, the environmentalists are in court to block this. The Obama admin is supportive. This costs US jobs. A direct policy-jobs nexus. Of course China isn’t going to use any less coal, so our policy is just self destructive. Interestingly, coal is currently being shipped from the US through a Canadian port – providing Canadian jobs.

    But, then again, I guess Steve is just an incompetant, malaise afflicted boob…………the jobs machine author tells us so.

  28. sam says:

    Perhaps our government had other considerations in mind. Google ‘china coal burning us air pollution’

  29. john personna says:

    I actually agree with a lot of Steve P’s “As a businessman” comment. It is naturally a slow slog out of this. That is the nature of housing/credit crashes.

    Click here for Percent Job Losses During Recessions. We’ve been slogging out of this for 11 months by that measure.

    SoCal programmers tell me jobs have come back recently. We’ll see if that is any kind of bellwether, or if it is an isolated tick.

    (I agree less with the idea that any possible tweak to law is enough to make a dramatic correction to that housing/credit crash.)

  30. john personna says:

    BTW, do conservatives still want austerity? At the same time as recovery? How’s that work?

  31. anjin-san says:

    > For years businesses have been maligned as parasites

    When Bush was in office he adored business. Pretty much said “ignore the regulations, just go make money”. When he left office, the economy was in meltdown mode. You need to rethink some of your assumptions.

  32. anjin-san says:

    > Like a pressure relief valve the speculation in oil and energy will diffuse any momentum the economy generates.

    On this we agree. Kind of makes one wish they knew what went on when Cheney had the oil companies in for secret talks a few days after getting the keys to the White House, no? Certainly the size and power of the financial sector in relation to the overall economy has gotten out of hand, with severe negative consequences.

  33. anjin-san says:

    > I understand the government charges the surviving family members for the bullets used.

    They do. And they expect payment. But please don’t confuse Wayne with facts…

  34. steve says:

    “My facts you conveniently ignore are business over regulation and anti business government sentiment”

    What new regulations? Sentiment?

    Steve

  35. anjin-san says:

    > You see it’s not just me but most American business that feel this way.

    > I often wonder why the Lefty contingent ignores the statements presented

    Probably because you put forth your own opinion as if it was something handed down by a burning bush. “American business that feel this way” – sez who? You? Can you support that statement?

  36. sam says:

    @Plunk

    “My facts you conveniently ignore are business over regulation and anti business government sentiment”

    Just curious, Steve, which of the following, in your opinion, evince “anti business government sentiment”?

    A New Small Business Health Care Tax Credit
    A New Tax Credit for Hiring Unemployed Workers
    Bonus Depreciation Tax Incentives to Support New Investment
    75% Exclusion of Small Business Capital Gains
    Expansion of Limits on Small Business Expensing
    Five-Year Carryback of Net Operating Losses
    Reduction of the Built-In Gains Holding Period for Small Businesses from 10 to 7 Years to Allow Small Business Greater Flexibility in Their Investments
    Temporary Small Business Estimated Tax Payment Relief to Allow Small Businesses to
    Keep Needed Cash on Hand
    The Small Business Jobs and Credit Act

  37. wr says:

    Sam — On the one hand you have the facts of all the things Obama has done to benefit business. On the other you have Plunk’s fear that and Islamo-Commie-Lib in the White House will nationalize his little busines and put him in a death camp.

    Surely you must see that the latter is far more important to the American economy, and that the only solution is to replace Obama with a candidate Plunk likes. And then we can have our jobs back.