The Global Report

Jobless rate drops to 9 percent in January despite weak hiring

Added under Labor

America's economy continued to improve in January, the latest government jobs report confirmed Friday, even though the details were somewhat contradictory and confusing.

The unemployment rate went down to 9.0 percent, a sharp drop of 0.4 percentage point. But the number of payroll jobs expanded by only a paltry 36,000, which in itself isn't nearly enough to reduce the jobless rate.

The reason behind the apparent conflict in those two headline numbers stems from the fact that each number is derived from a different survey, and they don't capture the same data.

That conflict aside, analysts said the numbers confirmed the trend that's been apparent for more than a year: The economy is expanding slowly, the recovery is gaining traction and jobs are gradually coming back. Friday's weak jobs number was an outlier, perhaps distorted by severe winter weather and statistical revisions.

Sources: McClatchy Newspapers

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