The U.S. unemployment rate unexpectedly fell in January, to 9% from 9.4% in December, the Labor Department reported on Feb. 4.
Most economists had expected the Labor Department to report the jobless rate rose to 9.5%.
The Labor Department, in reporting data incorporating new adjustments, highlighted that the revisions made monthly comparisons difficult.
The department also reported the economy created 36,000 jobs, sharply below the average estimate of 148,000.
"The silver lining in this otherwise odd jobs report is manufacturing, which gained 49,000 jobs in January. That is a strong number, coming off the worst decade in history for this crucial sector of the economy. But we will not sustain these gains unless our lawmakers focus on policies to reduce our trade deficit, invest in infrastructure and clean energy manufacturing, and develop a long-term strategy to strengthen America's productive capacity," said Said Scott Paul, Executive Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing.
Job gains occured in durable goods, including motor vehicles and parts (+20,000), fabricated metal products (+13,000), machinery (+10,000), and computer and electronic products (+5,000). Employment in nondurable goods manufacturing declined by 13,000 over the month.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011, IW Staff