Unemployment Lowest Since April 2009

Jobs Ahead

Although economists predicted that the unemployment rate would increase to 9.5 percent, the unemployment rate went in the other direction, dropping 9 percent last month from 9.4 percent in December. Many would consider this good news, but a number of skeptical analysts don’t see it this way. The government reported that 36,000 new jobs were created last month—the fewest in four months. And analysts say this might not be a sign that that economic recovery is picking up pace.

Jim O’Sullivan, chief economist at MF Global, said that the market is discounting the big drop in the unemployment rate. “The information value of this report is limited because it was obviously affected by the weather,” he said.

The unemployment rate fell despite the small number of new jobs because some people who are out of work gave up looking for a new job, Mr. O’Sullivan said.

Andrew Wilkinson, senior market analyst at Interactive Brokers, said: “It’s extremely difficult to see beyond the snow to understand today’s data.”

Fortunately, during a recent speech the National Press Club, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the Fed expects the economy to improve this year and inflation to remain low.


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