From Bloomberg News
American employers added 193,000 workers in January and the unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent, the lowest since July 2001. The economy also added 81,000 more jobs than the government previously reported for December and November, the Labor Department said today in Washington. The jobless rate fell from 4.9 percent.
Job gains and low unemployment are signals that capacity is being used up and may prompt the Federal Reserve to raise the target interest rate again in coming months. Worker earnings rose 3.3 percent in the past 12 months, the most since February 2003.
Specfically, manufacturers added 7,000 jobs last month, after cutting 1,000 positions in December. The manufacturing workweek held at 40.8 hours for a third month and overtime held at 4.5 hours. Average weekly hours worked by production workers held at 33.8 for a fifth straight month.
Incomes increased last month. Workers' average hourly earnings rose 0.4 percent, or 7 cents, matching the previous month's percentage gain. Economists predicted a 0.3 percent increase in hourly wages. Average weekly earnings rose to $554.66 last month from $552.29 in December.
Weather aside, other surveys suggest hiring is improving. Consumer confidence rose last month to the highest level since June 2002 as the percentage of people finding jobs plentiful was the highest since the September 2001 terrorist attacks, according to a report this week from the New York-based Conference Board.
``The economy continues to get better from here,'' Richard Schnieders, chief executive officer of Sysco Corp., North America's largest distributor of food to restaurants, said in a Jan. 30 interview. The Houston-based company has added about 3 percent, or several hundred workers, to its sales force in the first half of its fiscal year which ends in June ``and our plans are to add an equal amount for the second half of the year,'' Schnieders said.
Chief executives are more confident about the U.S. economy and plan to increase investment and hire additional workers, according to a monthly survey released last week by Chief Executive magazine. The magazine's CEO Confidence index rose to the highest since the survey was started in 2002.
With today's report, the Labor Department officially revised the payroll numbers going as far back as 2001 after reviewing more complete tax data not available earlier from state unemployment insurance programs and making adjustments to its estimates of seasonal hiring patterns.
The revision subtracted 158,000 jobs from the previously estimate for the year ended March 2005. The economy added 1.98 million jobs last year and 2.1 million in 2004, today's data showed.