US jobless rate falls to 9.0% on 36,000 new jobs (by Greg Robb)
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- The U.S. unemployment rate fell unexpectedly to 9.0% in January, a 21-month low, as nonfarm payrolls rose by just 36,000, the Labor Department estimated Friday. The 36,000 increase in jobs was much lower than market expectations of a 140,000 gain. Economists had expected the jobless rate to tick higher to 9.5% vs. 9.4% in December. The payroll growth was hampered by winter weather and annual benchmark revisions. But the labor market is improving. Since the recent low point last February, nonfarm payroll employment has increased by 1 million.