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7.9% jobless rate shows jobs market offers more of the same

An applicant goes through paperwork at a Manhattan job fair on January 17, 2013 in New York City.

The Labor Department released its latest jobs numbers today -- 157,000 jobs created in January, with an uptick of 0.1 percent in the overall unemployment rate to 7.9 percent. It follows the trend we've seen in the unemployment reports for the last few months -- good, but not spectacular job growth across the country. Some positive news came in the form of the jobs numbers from November and December, which were revised upward.

"I think there's a lot to be taken, that's positive, from the number today," said Fortune magazine's Leigh Gallagher. "Specifically the number of the long-term unemployed is going down quite dramatically, and that's a very important factor."

"It's a steady move in the right direction," said Reuters' Felix Salmon. "But it's going to take a very, very long time before we hit that 6.5 percent target that the Fed has. We all wish it would be faster, and frankly, given how successful all of corporate America is -- as you can see from the stock market -- wouldn't it be nice if they started hiring people with some of those profits?"

Salmon referenced the five-year high the Dow reached today -- closing above 14,000 -- but warned: "The Dow is a completely meaningless average. It's not even an index; it's an anachronism -- and the fact that anyone pays any attention to it just never ceases to astonish me."

"I think there is meaning," countered Gallagher. "But I will say this -- this is something that not everyone is partaking in. We are still living in a country that is a tale of two markets, economies, people, classes, everything."

And we asked them to give us some suggestions for some weekend reading:

Gallagher recommended :

Salmon's choices:

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.
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