Fresh figures from the US Labor Department have shown employers have hired far fewer workers in January than expected. Analysts viewed this as a loss of momentum in the national economy after an already weak December.
Meager job gains towards the end of last year were barely improved upon in January, the US Labor Department reported Friday.
The latest monthly figures showed nonfarm payrolls rose only by 113,000, with 185,000 penciled in by analysts.
With strong job increases in construction, cold weather was not a major factor for the slow pick-up, nurturing fears of a general loss of momentum of the national economy.
Public sector underperforms
The second-straight month of weak hiring was marked by declines in retail sales and utilities, posing a problem to the Federal Reserve, which had started tapering its monthly bond-purchasing stimulus program.
The silver lining in the Labor Department's report was that the overall unemployment rate dipped by a tenth of a percentage to 6.6 percent - the lowest since October 2008.
The private sector accounted for all the hiring in January, while government payrolls dropped by 29,000 due to budget restraints, marking the steepest decline since October 2012.
hg/ph (dpa, AP, Reuters)