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Jobless rate falls to 9 percent despite weak job growth

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The unemployment rate dropped sharply last month to 9 percent, the lowest level in nearly two years. But the economy generated only 36,000 net new jobs, the fewest in four months.

The January report illustrates how job growth remains the economy's weakest spot, even as other economic indicators point to a recovery that is strengthening.

Friday's report offered a conflicting picture on hiring. Unemployment fell because the Labor Department's household survey determined that more than a half-million people without jobs found work. The department conducts a separate survey of businesses, which showed tepid job creation. The two surveys sometimes diverge.

Severe winter weather likely reduced the number of jobs created. Harsh snowstorms last month cut into construction employment, which fell by 32,000, the most since May. Transportation and warehousing also fell by 38,000 — the most in a year.

In one bright spot, manufacturing added 49,000 jobs, the most since August 1998. And retailers added 28,000 jobs, the largest number in a year.

The unemployment rate has fallen by eight-tenths of a percentage point in the past two months. That's the steepest two-month drop in nearly 53 years.

But part of that drop has occurred as many of those out of work gave up on their job searches. When unemployed people stop looking for jobs, the government no longer counts them as unemployed.

The number of people unemployed fell by more than 600,000 in January, to 13.9 million. That's still about double the total that were out of work before the recession began in December 2007.

The January report also includes the government's annual revisions to the employment data, which showed that fewer jobs were created in 2010 than previously thought. All told, about 950,000 net new jobs were added last year, down from a previous estimate of 1.1 million. The economy lost about 8 million jobs in 2008 and 2009.

In the past three months, the economy generated an average of 83,000 net jobs per month. That's not enough to keep up with population growth.

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  1. So as I read this the one question that continues to come to me to ask is. Didn't Indiana only have a couple of exchanges for people to opt into which were very high because we really didn't want to expect the plan. So was this study done during that time and if so then I can understand these numbers. I also understand that we have now opened up for more options for hoosiers to choose from. Please correct if I'm wrong and if I'm not why was this not part of the story so that true overview could be taken away and not just parts of it to continue this negative tone against the ACA. I look forward to the clarity.

  2. It's really very simple. All forms of transportation are subsidized. All of them. Your tax money already goes toward every single form of transportation in the state. It is not a bad thing to put tax money toward mass transit. The state spends over 1,000,000,000 (yes billion) on roadway expansions and maintenance every single year. If you want to cry foul over anything cry foul over the overbuilding of highways which only serve people who can afford their own automobile.

  3. So instead of subsidizing a project with a market-driven scope, you suggest we subsidize a project that is way out of line with anything that can be economically sustainable just so we can have a better-looking skyline?

  4. Downtowner, if Cummins isn't getting expedited permitting and tax breaks to "do what they do", then I'd be happy with letting the market decide. But that isn't the case, is it?

  5. Patty, this commuter line provides a way for workers (willing to work lower wages) to get from Marion county to Hamilton county. These people are running your restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and retail stores. I don't see a lot of residents of Carmel working these jobs.

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