Unemployment Edges Up to 7.9 percent as Economy Adds 157,000 Jobs:
The economy added 157,000 jobs in the month. The unemployment rate has essentially been unchanged the last five months. While the January job growth was pretty much in line with expectations… growth for the prior two months was revised up by 127,000. This brings the average rate of job growth over the last three months to 200,000, considerably better than the average of 168,000 over the last year.
And enough so that we can say that the economy is--at least now--creating more jobs than trend labor-force growth.
The average duration of unemployment spells fell by 2.8 weeks, the largest drop ever. The median duration fell by 2 weeks and the share of long-term unemployed fell by 1.0 pp. This decline undoubtedly reflects the shortening of the period of extended benefits following the fiscal cliff deal. Since worker are required to look for jobs to get benefits, it appears that many of the unemployed stopped looking for work when their benefits expired, and therefore are no longer counted as unemployed.