US unemployment ticks up to 4% in Jan

US employers added 467,000 jobs in January amid the Omicron surge, with the unemployment rate slightly rising to 4.0 per cent, the US Labor Department reported on Friday.

Jason Furman, former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said on Twitter that it might take some time for the impact of the Omicron surge to show up in employment data, Xinhua news agency reported.

“I expect to learn nothing from today’s jobs number. It’s like we had a big hurricane and today’s numbers won’t tell us anything about where the economy will be a month or two from now,” said Furman, also a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and a Harvard University professor.

“There will be hard-to-interpret aspects around timing, definitions and seasonal adjustment,” he added.

In January, employment growth continued in leisure and hospitality, in professional and business services, in retail trade, and in transportation and warehousing, according to the report.

The latest data also showed that the unemployment rate slightly ticked up by 0.1 percentage points to 4 per cent in January, after dropping by 0.3 percentage points in December. This measure was down considerably from its recent high in April 2020 but remained above the pre-pandemic level of 3.5 per cent.

The number of unemployed persons increased to 6.5 million, the report showed, adding that the number remained above the pre-pandemic level of 5.7 million.

Among the unemployed, the number of permanent job losers declined to 1.6 million in January and is down by 1.9 million from a year earlier.

The number of persons on temporary layoff rose by 147,000 to reach 959,000, according to the report.

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