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Unemployment rate falls as fewer people seek jobs


The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 9 percent in January from 9.4 percent during the prior month, though only 36,000 jobs were added in the non-farm employment sector as severe weather in some parts of the country affected hiring.

The New York Times reported that 13.9 million people were out of work last month, and fewer people sought full-time employment.

“We’re not creating jobs as fast as you’d like to see to sustain an economic virtual circle,” said Jerry Webman, chief economist at OppenheimerFunds Inc.

Fifty thousand jobs were added by private companies in January, but federal, state and local governments cut 14,000 positions.

Employment in the manufacturing sector grew by 49,000 jobs and 28,000 retail-trade positions were added, according to a prepared statement by Keith Hall, commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The transportation and warehousing sector shed 38,000 jobs.

According to the Times, some economists said last month’s snowstorms were particularly hard on the construction sector, which lost 32,000 jobs.

“It’s very brutal in our industry,” said Brantley Barrow, chairman of Atlanta-based Hardin Construction, a commercial builder. “Even though the general economy is getting better, it’s going to be another year or two before things start to improve in our industry.”

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