Unemployment Rate Edges Up; Partial Gov’t. Shutdown a Factor

NATIONAL REPORT—The U.S. economy added 304,000 in January, and the unemployment rate edged up to 4%, according to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job gains occurred in several industries, including leisure and hospitality, construction, healthcare, and transportation and warehousing.

Both the unemployment rate, at 4%, and the number of unemployed persons, at 6.5 million, edged up in January. The impact of the partial federal government shutdown contributed to the uptick in these measures. Among the unemployed, the number who reported being on temporary layoff increased by 175,000. This figure includes furloughed federal employees who were classified as unemployed on temporary layoff under the definitions used in the household survey.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for Hispanics increased to 4.9% in January. The jobless rates for adult men (3.7%), adult women (3.6%), teenagers (12.9%), Whites (3.5%), Blacks (6.8%), and Asians (3.1%) showed little change over the month.

In January, the number of long-term unemployed—those jobless for 27 weeks or more—was little changed at 1.3 million and accounted for 19.3% of the unemployed.

The labor force participation rate, at 63.2%, and the employment-population ratio, at 60.7%, changed little over the month; both measures were up by 0.5 percentage point over the year.

The number of persons employed part-time for economic reasons—sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers—increased by about one-half million to 5.1 million in January. Nearly all of this increase occurred in the private sector and may reflect the impact of the partial federal government shutdown. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs.