U.S. unemployment rate dips below 5 percent for first time in years

Nation added 151,000 jobs in January

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:08 am

The national unemployment rate dipped below 5 percent for the first time in nearly eight years, coming in at 4.9 percent according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.Unemployment-2006-Jan2016-Athomas

The last time the country’s unemployment rate was this low was February 2009, although the rate was little changed from December when it was at 5 percent.

The U.S. labor force participation rate in January was 62.7 percent, up slightly from 62.6 percent in December, but down from 62.9 percent a year ago.

The BLS also announced total nonfarm payroll increased 151,000 in January, a sharp drop from the 292,000 jobs added in December. 

The job gains were led by retail trade, food service, health care and manufacturing. Retail added a total of 58,000 jobs after being flat in December. The industry has added 301,000 jobs over the last 12 months, driven primarily by motor vehicle and parts dealers and general merchandise stores.

Food service and drinking place employment added 47,000 jobs. Health care added 37,000 jobs, including 24,000 in hospitals.

The manufacturing sector added 29,000 jobs in January, nearly as many as were added in all of 2015. The growth came particularly in food manufacturing, fabricated metal products and furniture and related products.

“The stronger-than-expected gains in manufacturing employment provide a hint of optimism for a sector that has been hard-hit by global headwinds over the course of the past year,” said Chad Moutray, National Association of Manufacturers chief economist.

Industries where employment was down in January included private educational services, which lost 39,000 jobs as seasonal layoffs were larger than usual. The transportation and warehousing sector lost 20,000 jobs, driven by larger than usual layoffs among couriers and messengers after two months of strong seasonal hiring.

Mining employment also lost 7,000 jobs. The industry’s employment has decreased by 146,000 since peaking in September 2014.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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