Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 157,000 in January, and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 7.9%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.
Retail trade, construction, health care and wholesale trade added jobs over the month.
Construction employment showed improvement, according to the data released Friday morning. January construction jobs increased by 28,000, with nearly all of the job growth taking place in specialty trade contractors (+26,000). Residential and nonresidential construction jobs grew at about the same pace.
Since reaching a low in January 2011, construction employment has grown by 296,000, with one-third of the gain occurring in the last four months. However, the January 2013 level of construction employment remained about 2 million below its previous peak level in April 2006.
In December 2012, unemployment was 7.8%. A year ago, the national unemployment rate was 8.3%.