Job Growth Weak in January, Despite Good Weather

February 2, 2007 (Jobs Byte)

Job Growth Weak in January, Despite Good Weather

February 2, 2007

By Dean Baker

Productivity growth will be revised down by 0.7 pp due to the benchmark revision.

The establishment survey showed the economy adding 111,000 jobs in January, in spite of unusually good weather in the Northeast and Midwest. However, upward revisions to the prior two month’s data left the 3-month average at a respectable 171,000. The unemployment rate remained virtually constant at 4.6 percent.

The effects of the weather were most striking in construction, which added 22,000 jobs. (The survey is based on the pay period that includes the 12th, so today’s data would not be affected by weather over the last two weeks.) Construction employment now stands 100,000 above its year ago level. Even residential construction has only declined modestly, losing just 75,000 jobs over the last year, or 2.5 percent of employment in the sector. Since output in the sector fell by 12.3 percent between the 4th quarter of 2005 and the 4th quarter of 2006, a larger drop in employment would have been expected. The real estate sector has actually seen an increase of 25,000 jobs over the last year.

Manufacturing lost another 16,000 jobs in January, bringing the cumulative loss since September to 97,000 jobs. This decline has been heavily concentrated among production workers in durable goods, a category that has lost 83,000 jobs since September. Autos have been hardest hit, losing 49,000 jobs over this period. The benchmark revision actually lowered manufacturing employment slightly, it now accounts for just 10.3 percent of total employment.