Hiring increased in January after accelerating more than previously estimated at the end of 2012, evidence the U.S. labor market was making progress even as lawmakers quarreled over the federal budget.
Payrolls rose 157,000 following a revised 196,000 advance in the prior month and a 247,000 surge in November, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The revisions added a total of 127,000 jobs to the employment count in November and December. The jobless rate increased to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent.
Sustained hiring gains will give incomes a lift, buffering American workers from the sting of higher payroll taxes and helping them keep spending. At the same time, bigger employment advances are needed to drive down a jobless rate that Federal Reserve officials say is too high.
“Improvement in the labor market is continuing,” Jonathan Basile, a U.S. economist at Credit Suisse in New York, said before the report. “Even though there were concerns about the fiscal cliff, it looks like they did not show up in hiring decisions.”
Stock-index futures maintained gains after the figures, with the contract on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index maturing in March rising 0.4 percent to 1,499.8 at 8:35 a.m. in New York.
The median forecast of 90 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an advance of 165,000 in January payrolls. Projections ranged from gains of 115,000 to 230,000 following an initially reported 155,000 increase in December.
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