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U.S. Added 151,000 Jobs In January, Unemployment Dropped To 4.9 Percent

A worker is shown last month at the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Warren Stamping Plant in Warren, Mich.
Getty Images
A worker is shown last month at the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Warren Stamping Plant in Warren, Mich.

The U.S. economy added just 151,000 jobs in January while unemployment dropped slightly, to 4.9 percent, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Economists had expected to see about 190,000 new jobs.

The unemployment rate, which has held steady at 5 percent the past few months, dropped slightly to 4.9 percent. It's the first time unemployment has fallen below 5 percent since the recession.

The more-robust job growth during the end of 2015 was also revised downward overall: November's job gains were changed from 252,000 to 280,000, the BLS says, and in December, the economy added 262,000 new jobs, rather than 292,000.

One bright spot on the jobs report: Wages. Average hourly earnings rose by 12 cents in January, to $25.39. The report says that over the year, wages have risen 2.5 percent overall.

Retail, restaurants, healthcare and manufacturing all gained jobs, the BLS says. But jobs were lost in transportation, warehousing, private education services and mining.

Meanwhile, NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports for our Newscast unit that other reports suggest layoff activity has increased:

"The Labor Department said claims for new jobless benefits increased last week. And outplacement firm Challenger Gray and Christmas said planned layoffs spiked last month because of cutbacks in retail and energy," Yuki says. "Last month, Walmart and Macy's both announced plans to pare down their workforces."

And last month, the Commerce department reported that GDP growth had slowed to 0.7 percent.
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.