Employment Report: Jobs Up, Unemployment Down

Some positive numbers on the employment front, for a change.
The economy flexed its growing strength with the addition of an incredible 243,000 jobs in January, cutting the unemployment rate from to 8.3 from 8.5 percent and putting some wind in President Barack Obama’s sails as he heads into reelection.

Manufacturing, mining, restaurants and even construction contributed to an uptick that caught many analysts off guard. Wall Street economists had projected the Bureau of Labor Statistics would report Friday the addition of 145,000-150,000 jobs and a flat unemployment rate.

Instead, the economy picked up speed and unemployment slid down to its lowest point in nearly three years, a potential sign that the 200,000 jobs added in December could not be dismissed as a holiday fluke.
“This is the strongest jobs report seen through the entire recovery,” University of Pennsylvania economist Justin Wolfers quickly tweeted. “It’s rare that all indicators point so strongly in the same direction.”
The overall work week remained unchanged at 34.5 hours while wages rose an average of four cents an hour to $23.29.

The closely watched labor-force participation number, which can skew the unemployment rate, fell to 63.7 percent, the lowest since May 1983. The number of those working part-time for economic reasons rose 1.2 percent.

Job gains have been concentrated primarily in the service sector, particularly in retail and the food and beverage industries. Warehousing, manufacturing, mining and health care also have participated.

True to form, services were responsible for 162,000 of the January swell, with manufacturing payrolls growing 50,000. Government cuts subtracted 14,000 from the total. Retail has added 390,000 jobs since December 2009, while durable goods manufacturing is up 418,000 over the past two years, according to government figures.
Exit question: will this trend continue to hold? And, if it does, what will (presumably) Mitt Romney's line-of-attack be again President Obama's re-election campaign?