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January's job numbers: the good, the bad

Unemployed man Steve Linton stands with his CV outside.

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JEREMY HOBSON: Now let's get to this morning's big jobs report from the labor department. The unemployment rate is down from 9.4 percent to 9 percent. That's the lowest in almost 2 years. At the same time, the economy only created 36,000 jobs in January.

Analysis in a moment. Marketplace's Scott Tong starts us off first with the numbers.


SCOTT TONG: OK first the bad. 36,000 new jobs is downright weak. And a surprise, to economic consultant Peter Cohan.

PETER COHAN: This 36,000 number sounds like it's way below what people expected. That sounds kind of disappointing to me.

He figures hiring has slowed, though bad weather could foul up that number. On the smiley side, the unemployment rate fell to 9.0 percent. But Cohan thinks the number's artificially skewed - that more people are so discouraged they've quit looking, so they don't show up in the number. Still, a drop in the rate feels good, and that matters, says Anthony Crescenzi at the bond firm Pimco.

ANTHONY CRESCENZI: Brian Williams will report tonight that the jobless rate fell, and Katie Couric to 9 percent from 9.4. and the public will feel better as a result.

It's not just about feeling better, he says Americans more upbeat will go out and hunt for jobs.

In Washington I'm Scott Tong for Marketplace.

About the author

Scott Tong is a correspondent for Marketplace’s sustainability desk, with a focus on energy, environment, resources, climate, supply chain and the global economy.

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