Manufacturing Continues To Shed Jobs

By John S. McClenahen The manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy continues to shed jobs, although the pace at which workers are being laid off slowed dramatically in January. Factories laid off 16,000 workers last month, down from a revised figure of 80,000 jobs lost during December 2002, reports the U.S. Labor Department. Motor vehicle producers actually added 11,000 jobs in January, the department says, but job losses continued among makers of industrial machinery, electronic equipment, fabricated metals, chemicals and apparel. In a major surprise to economists, however, the overall U.S. economy added 143,000 jobs in January, with payroll employment reaching 130.8 million and the unemployment rate for the nation dropping to 5.7%. The jobless rate had been 6% in December of last year. The addition of 101,000 jobs in retail was the major factor in January's job increase. But retail wasn't the only sector adding jobs. Construction added 21,000 jobs in January and service industries added 35,000, for example.

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