Easy Street

January’s jobs: Where did they come from?

Eliza Ronalds-Hannon Feb 7, 2012

January’s impressive job growth is good news for the overall economy.

But let’s get a little more specific: There are 12.8 million people still looking for work who want to know more than just how many of their peers finally reached the Promised Land. They want to know what kinds of jobs are being filled.






Politicians have been talking about growth in U.S. manufacturing as the path to a true recovery — but that’s been a hard story to believe when there’s so much angst about manufacturing jobs moving overseas.Yet, manufacturing was indeed one of the big gainers. The manufacturing sector added 50,000 jobs in January.

It was the largest one-month increase since August 1998, according to the Alliance for American Manufacturing, and it may be a turning point in the perception of U.S. manufacturing. 

“It does seem counter-indicative because durable goods manufacturing has added 418,000 jobs over the past 2 years,” said Victoria Battista, an economist at the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Employment Statistics program.

In other sectors, bars and restaurants served up 33,000 new jobs, making for a total increase of 487,000 in that industry since its recent low in February 2010.

And the ever-growing health care industry tacked on 31,000 new workers — just a hint of what’s to come.

Health care and social services will add an estimated 5,639,400 jobs between 2010 and 2020, the BLS predicts. That’s a gain of more than a third.

Keeping our eyes focused on the future, there’s a turnaround story in the works, the BLS suggests. The agency foresees a sizeable boom in the embattled construction industry, which may also grow by a third — a full 1.83 million jobs by 2020.

But don’t call it a comeback. Even that growth won’t bring the industry to 2006 levels.





And job seekers may have one more source of comfort — or distress. Going back to school is worth the debt students may incur, the BLS statistics imply. The agency believes that jobs requiring a master’s degree will increase by 22 percent between 2010 and 2020. That’s faster than any other category of education.


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