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U.S. Adds 157,000 Jobs, Unemployment Rate Rises To 7.9 Percent

By Kendra Ablaza, Staff Writer

February 1, 2013 - Though the national unemployment rate ticked up slightly, markets reacted positively to the new jobs numbers released this morning.

According to the employment summary released by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the unemployment rate for January rose to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent the month before. However, the Dow Jones industrial average climbed above 1400 today for the first time since 2007.

The summary also reported that last month’s payroll employment was up by 157,000 for goods-producing, construction and manufacturing companies, though this was lower than the 166,000 jobs economists expected. But the good news is that previous job numbers for 2012 were revised upward. Previous estimates that pegged the monthly average at 150,000 jobs were raised to a monthly average of 180,000.

Gains occurred in retail trade, construction, healthcare and wholesale trade, while employment fell in transportation and warehousing. Other major industries such as financial activities, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality and government, showed little change over the month.

Despite the market’s positive reaction, retailers say these new job numbers still are not good enough. The National Retail Federation sent a letter to President Obama today in response to the employment summary, insisting that the White House and U.S. Congress, “immediately make economic growth and job creation their top priority.”

Experts are already using this new data to predict workforce trends for the year. Professional staffing and consulting firm Robert Half International, based in Menlo Park, California, predict the job market’s current traits such as a widening skill gap, social media use and packages tailored to each generational group will continue for the rest of the year.