Unemployment rises to 7.9 percent, economy adds 157,000 jobs

Rachel Rose Hartman
The Ticket

The unemployment rate rose from 7.8 in December to 7.9 percent in January, but the economy added 157,000 new jobs last month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' monthly report released Friday morning.

The report indicates that job gains were seen in retail trade, construction, health care and wholesale trade, while employment edged down in the transportation and warehousing industries.

The additional 157,000 jobs added is less than the 196,000 jobs added in December, according to the revised numbers.

The number of unemployed persons overall rose from 12.2 million in December to 12.3 million in January.

On Wednesday, the Commerce Department announced that the economy had unexpectedly contracted with the gross domestic product falling at a 0.1 percent rate. The White House blamed Superstorm Sandy and spending cuts for the drop.

But the news, combined with the GDP drop and Thursday's announcement that the White House would not renew the president's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, is feeding criticism of the president's economic efforts.

House Speaker John Boehner, Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus and other Republican leaders in Washington immediately cast Friday's jobs numbers as another strike against President Barack Obama.

Boehner, in a statement, focused on the shuttering of the jobs council, which many Republicans had attacked Thursday:

This is the wrong time for President Obama to scrap his jobs council and delay his budget. Month after month we see the same thing: high unemployment and even more debt. More than 12 million Americans are still unemployed, and it’s been that way for far too long. If government spending were what causes economic growth, as the president believes, then the economy today should be booming, and the unemployment rate in America should be plummeting.