The unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage points for the second consecutive month, but the news is hardly worth cheering about. The establishment survey showed a gain of just 36,000 jobs in January, following a revised gain of 121,000 jobs in December, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics employment report. The average rate of job creation over the last three months has been just 87,000, a rate that is not enough fast enough to keep pace with the growth of the labor force. Furthermore, there is no sector showing especially strong growth. With the exception of manufacturing, which added 49,000 jobs, growth in other industries remained weak or non-existant, and there is little evidence that employers are about to pick up the pace of hiring.

The big gainers in January were white men, who saw their unemployment rate fall by 0.6 percentage points for the second consecutive month; although at 7.9 percent it is still somewhat higher than the 7.0 percent rate for white women. The unemployment rate for Hispanics also fell by 0.6 percentage points to 11.9 percent, but there was little change in the employment situation of blacks, whose overall unemployment rate of 15.7 percent remains near the peak for the downturn.

For more info, check out our latest Jobs Byte.