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Higher stakes for January unemployment report

Jenny Pazar, who is currently an intern, fills out a form as she looks for a job at a job fair December 02, 2011 in Portland, Oregon. January jobs numbers are often a little out of the ordinary.

Jeremy Hobson: We'll find out how many jobs the economy created last month. The Labor Department will also tell us what the new unemployment rate is. In December, it was 8.5 percent. The monthly jobs report is high stakes every month, but January may take on an even greater significance.

Marketplace's Nancy Marshall-Genzer explains why.


Nancy Marshall-Genzer: One reason January is so important is that December looked so strong. Emplooyers hired two hundred thousand people. The unemployment rate fell to the lowest rate in three years. But the December jobs numbers were skewed by holiday hiring. A lot of December's jobs were temporary. They were eliminated in January. So January is more business as usual.

Economists like Joel Naroff of Naroff economic advisers say the jobless picture is going to be fuzzy for the next few months. We'll have our ups and downs. But if the job market is growing and stable job market by June he'll breathe easier.

Joel Naroff: And that will be the signal that the labor market has really begun to turn and this economy may finally be moving into that stage where growth becomes more solid.

Naroff says that would lead to a positive cycle where newly hired people go out and spend. Causing businesses to hire even more people.

In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall-Genzer for Marketplace.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.
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