January Payrolls Fail to Meet Projections as Retail, Government Hiring Fall
Payrolls in the U.S. continued to rise, though at a rate less than projected, as retailers cut back after the holidays and hiring for government positions fell. A gain of 113,000 in employment followed a 75,000 increase in December 2013. The median forecast as predicted by a Bloomberg survey of economists was 180,000 with more Americans entering or reentering the labor force. Payroll cuts for retailers and government agencies were the highest in over a year. At the same time, construction and manufacturing firms boosted employment.
Private employment rose by 142,000 in January following an 89,000 increase in December. The median prediction for this sector was 185,000. Many department store chains, such as Macy’s and J.C. Penney, announced sharp workforce reductions and store closures as the holiday shopping season ended. Inclement weather also played a role in January as 262,000 workers were unable to work due to extreme wintry conditions.
Over half of all payroll gains in January occurred in the construction and manufacturing industries as service-producers slowed. Employment in education and health services fell by 6,000 and government employment at all levels sank 29,000 for the month. Average hourly earnings ticked up 0.2 percent over December 2013 and 1.9 percent over the year. Temporary-help services showed an increase of 8,100, signaling an increase in demand from some companies as the year progresses.