Manufacturers saw the first monthly increase in jobs in three years based on January employment numbers released today. The Labor Department reports 11,000 jobs were gained last month in the manufacturing sector. Outside of temporary employment, the private sector still shed 64,000 jobs in January, where a 75,000 decline in construction employment offset modest gains in other sectors, including manufacturing.
Most of the gain in manufacturing employment was the result of increased production related to inventory restocking after a major drawdown took place in 2009. However, this is a temporary boost and will fade in coming months.
Overall, the unemployment numbers show the economy shed 20,000 jobs last month while the unemployment rate edged down to 9.7 percent from 10 percent in December — signaling the labor market is improving very slowly. Temporary employment as well as federal payrolls, partly due to the hiring of workers to conduct the 2010 Census, are main reasons for smaller job losses last month.
A slow and fragile recovery with no durable gains in employment will likely continue until the second half of the year.