January employment

Unemployment dropped unexpectedly in January, according to data released this morning by the BLS. The unemployment rate went down to 9%. However, only 36,000 jobs were created as the decline in construction jobs was almost enough to offset the increases in manufacturing, retail trade and health care (among other industries gaining employment). If the construction decline was mainly due to poor weather, then the employment trend is clearly positive.
In other good news, the number of involuntary underemployed (both the number of workers part-time due slack work and number of workers who could only find part time work) declined, as the chart below shows.

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