February 7, 2014 - 20:44 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The U.S. economy added 113,000 jobs in January, the second month in a row the figure has been weaker than expected, according to BBC News.
Economists had predicted the U.S. Labor Department would report an increase of about 180,000 new jobs. However, the unemployment rate fell to 6.6%, the lowest level since October 2008.
The jobless figures will raise concerns that, after strong growth in the second half of 2013, the U.S. economic recovery is beginning to lose its steam. However U.S. stock markets shrugged off the news - with shares on Wall Street rising in early trading.
The unemployment rate is calculated from a different survey to the jobs figure - known as non-farm payrolls. The rate is based on a survey of households, while the jobs figure is based on a survey of employers.
December's surprisingly weak payrolls figure was revised up only modestly to 75,000, from 74,000.
The construction industry, most vulnerable to the impact of bad weather, added 48,000 jobs in January, indicating that while the weather may have been responsible for December's weak figures, it does not appear to have been a factor in January.
Manufacturing hiring also picked up, adding 21,000 jobs.
Another positive factor from the report was that more Americans started looking for, and found, work.
But there were declines in hiring in retail, utilities, government, and education and health employment.
The U.S. Federal Reserve has started withdrawing its extra support from the economy - a process known as tapering - after judging that the economy was improving, citing stronger jobs growth as one of the factors.
The central bank had been spending $85bn a month buying bonds, but has now reduced that to $65bn a month.
The unemployment rate is now very close to 6.5% - the level at which the Fed said it would start to consider an increase in interest rates, although most analysts agree a rate rise is still a long way off.