Jobs report signals strengthening economy
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Washington - In a long-awaited surge of hiring, U.S. companies added 243,000 jobs in January -- across the economy, up and down the pay scale and far more than just about anyone expected. The national unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent, the lowest in three years.
The job growth was the fastest since last March and April. Before that, the last month with stronger hiring, excluding months skewed by temporary census jobs, was March 2006.
The unemployment rate has fallen five months in a row, the first time that has happened since 1994, two economic booms and two recessions ago.
"The economy is growing stronger," President Barack Obama said. "The recovery is speeding up." Indeed, the report Friday from the Labor Department suggested the nation is entering a virtuous cycle, a reinforcing loop in which stronger hiring leads to more consumer spending, which leads to even more hiring and spending.
So far, Long Island hasn't shared in the nation's jobs revival. Economist Pearl Kamer of the Long Island Association, a business group, noted that Nassau and Suffolk's economies had 9,900 fewer jobs in December than a year earlier. While she thinks employment here will grow sometime this year due to a combination of a lift in consumer confidence, rising pay and low interest rates, she thinks a strong jobs recovery will depend on a rebound in housing values, which is "unlikely to occur before 2014."
At the Manhattan office of Adecco Staffing US, a personnel and temporary employment firm, senior vice president Kathy Kane said the broad nature of the job gains -- cutting across many industries from health care to construction -- suggests a spillover effect to come on Long Island.
The job gains in January were widespread. The professional services category, which includes high-paying jobs like architects, accountants and engineers, added 70,000 jobs, the most in 10 months. Manufacturing added 50,000 jobs, including 7,900 for motor vehicles and parts. The beleaguered construction industry added 21,000.
The impressive jobs report reverberated through the presidential campaign and, if sustained, could improve Obama's re-election prospects.
With Tom Incantalupo
The nation’s jobless rate rose dramatically after the 2008 financial crisis, and is slowly recovering. Three dates:
(pre-crisis low in ’08)
in three years)