Economic News Release

Commissioner's Statement on the Employment Situation News Release


Advance copies of this statement are made available to the press
under lock-up conditions with the explicit understanding that the
data are embargoed until 8:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.
                                
                          Statement of
                                
                           Keith Hall
                          Commissioner
                   Bureau of Labor Statistics
                                
                           before the
                    Joint Economic Committee
                     UNITED STATES CONGRESS

                    Friday, February 5, 2010


Madam Chair and Members of the Committee:

     Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the employment and
unemployment data we released this morning.
     
     The unemployment rate declined from 10.0 to 9.7 percent in
January.  Nonfarm payroll employment was essentially unchanged 
(-20,000) and on net has shown little movement over the last 3
months.  In January, job losses continued in construction and in
transportation and warehousing, while employment increased in
temporary help services and retail trade.  With revisions
released today, job losses since the start of the recession in
December 2007 totaled 8.4 million, substantially more than
previously reported.
     
     Construction employment fell by 75,000 in January, about in
line with the average monthly job loss in 2009.  Nonresidential
specialty trade contracting accounted for the much of the over-
the-month decline.  The nonresidential components of construction
have accounted for the majority of the industry's job loss since
early 2009.  Employment in transportation and warehousing
decreased by 19,000 in January; the entire decline occurred in
courier and messenger services, which laid off more workers than
usual over the month.
     
     Employment in temporary help services grew by 52,000 over
the month.  This industry, which provides workers to other
businesses, has added nearly a quarter of a million jobs since
its recent low point last September.  Following 2 months of
little change, retail trade employment increased by 42,000 in
January, with gains in several components.  Health care
employment continued to rise in January.  Overall, manufacturing
employment was little changed, although motor vehicles and parts
added 23,000 jobs.  Since June, the manufacturing workweek for
all employees has increased by 1.2 hours.
     
     Federal government employment rose in January, partly due to
hiring for the decennial census.  Employment in state and local
governments, excluding education, continued to trend down over
the month.
     
     Average hourly earnings of all employees in the private
sector rose by 4 cents in January to $22.45.  Over the past 12
months, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.0 percent.  From
December 2008 to December 2009, the Consumer Price Index for All
Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased by 2.8 percent.
     
     Turning now to some measures from our household survey, both
the number of unemployed persons (14.8 million) and the
unemployment rate (9.7 percent) declined in January.  However,
the share of those jobless for 27 weeks and over continued to
rise.
     
     The employment-population ratio increased to 58.4 percent
over the month.  The number of persons working part time who
would have preferred full-time employment dropped from 9.2 to 8.3
million, the lowest level in a year.
     
     Before closing, I would note that several changes were
introduced today to the Employment Situation news release text
and tables.  Three new household survey tables provide
information on the employment status of veterans, persons with a
disability, and the foreign-born population.  In January, the
unemployment rate of veterans from Gulf War era II (September
2001 to the present) was 12.6 percent, compared with 10.4 percent
for nonveterans.  Persons with a disability had a higher jobless
rate than persons with no disability--15.2 versus 10.4 percent.
In addition, 21.8 percent of persons with a disability were in
the labor force, compared with 70.1 percent of persons without a
disability.  The unemployment rate for the foreign born was 11.8
percent, and the rate for the native born was 10.3 percent.  (The
data in these new tables are not seasonally adjusted.)
     
     The establishment survey tables have been redesigned to
include the addition of data on hours and earnings for all
private-sector employees as well as employment information for
women.  Women currently make up 49.9 percent of total nonfarm
payroll employment, compared with 48.8 percent when the recession
began in December 2007.  Additional information about the new and
redesigned tables is available on the BLS Web site.
     
     I would also note that there were annual adjustments to data
from our two surveys.  The establishment survey data released
today reflect the incorporation of annual benchmark revisions.
Each year, we re-anchor our sample-based survey estimates to full
universe counts of employment, primarily derived from
administrative records of the unemployment insurance tax system.
Accounting for revisions during the benchmark and post-benchmark
periods, the previously published level of total nonfarm
employment for December 2009 was revised downward by 1,363,000.
Household survey data for January reflect updated population
estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.  Further information about
the impact of these adjustments is contained in our news release
and on our Web site.
     
     Returning now to the labor market data we released this
morning, the jobless rate declined to 9.7 percent in January, and
payroll employment was essentially unchanged.
     
     My colleagues and I now would be glad to answer your
questions.
     
     
     

Last Modified Date: February 05, 2010
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