While employment in financial activities dropped by 5,000 jobs in January, the unemployment rate dropped markedly over the year, bringing a glimmer of hope to the battered finance sector.
The overall unemployment rate in finance dropped to 4.9% from 7.2% in January 2011 and 6.6% in January 2010, figures released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate. The financial activities sector suffered a loss of 5,000 jobs last month after gaining 4,000 in December 2011.
Specific losses were seen within the finance and insurance industry, which saw a decrease of 7,500 jobs. Employment in real estate, rental and leasing climbed by 1,600 jobs. Under the umbrella of the professional and business services sector, which saw an overall increase of 70,000 jobs, the accounting and bookkeeping industry added 12,500 jobs.
Economists typically caution that reading too much into single month's report can be misleading; analyzing longer-term trends tends to provide a clearer picture of the economic situation. Glimmers of hope, then, can be seen in the year-over-year statistics for finance firms.
The national unemployment rate fell to 8.3% in January, down from 9.1% a year ago, and the lowest figure since February 2009. Most economists expected overall unemployment to remain steady at the 8.5% rate reported in December. The addition of 243,000 payrolls exceeded analyst expectations; job gains were seen across 64.1 industries, up from 62.4 in December.
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