Economy Tacks On 112,000 January Jobs

February 6, 2004 ( - The economy's job-making machine apparently sputtered back to life in January, churning out 112,000 new non-farm positions in a performance that vastly outclassed December's paltry revised increase of 16,000.

According to the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there was a 76,000 increase in the retail sector, but the long-troubled manufacturing area shed another 11,000 positions during the month, despite some signs of a revival. That was the 42nd straight manufacturing loss in a row.

Construction added 24,000 new jobs, education and health services tacked on 22,000, and leisure and hospitality increased jobs by 21,000. On the negative side, government employers gave up 13,000 jobs, while professional and business services lost 22,000 slots.

The BLS also reported that the nation’s January unemployment rate ticked down to 5.6% – the lowest since January 2002 – from December’s 5.7% (See  December Job-Creation Prediction: 130,000; DoL Data: 1,000 ). That’s down from 5.9% in November 2003.

Analysts participating in Reuters’ monthly survey had predicted a 150,000-job increase for January and for the jobless rate to hold steady at 5.7%.