On Friday, the Labor Department reported that the economy added just 113k jobs in January. Economists had expected a gain of 180,000 after a very weak report in December. The two months are both far below employment growth trends last year. The unemployment rate was down a tick to 6.6%.
According to the report, the private sector added 142,000. This implies a 29,000 decline in government employment.
For all of 2013, the economy added an average of 194,000 jobs a month. This is right around the level necessary to keep up with population growth. This makes it difficult to quickly absorb the unemployed back into the workforce. Those unemployed for 27 weeks or longer make up 35% of the unemployed.
Most of the data in the report was essentially flat from December. Average weekly hours in January were the same as they were in January 2013. Average weekly earnings in January increased just 0.2% after zero growth in December.
The January, and December, jobs data is consistent with other economic indicators suggesting a slowdown in the economy. Fourth quarter GDP growth was down sharply from the 3rd Quarter last year.