Nonfarm payroll employment fell by 17,000 in January, well below expectations but accompanied by an upward revision of December's number to an 82,000 job gain. The report was released with a benchmark revision that resulted in a downward adjustment of 191,000 to payrolls in 2007. Both construction and manufacturing employment continued to lose jobs in January, falling 27,000 and 28,000, respectively. Construction employment has fallen 284,000 since the peak of the housing boom in September 2006, and manufacturing employment has lost 269,000 over the past 12 months. In contrast, professional and business service payrolls have gained 290,000 over the past year. Government payrolls fell by 18,000 during the month, mostly because of reductions in state education workers, but added 185 workers over the past 12 months.
The ISM manufacturing index is indicating slight expansion, as it rose to 50.7 in January, a month after its first dip into contractionary territory in 11 months. The production component provided most of the bounce, jumping up from 48.6 in December to 55.2 in January. Both the new orders and inventories indexes increased slightly but remained in contractionary territory, posting values of 49.5 and 49.1, respectively. The employment index fell 1.6 points to 47.1, its lowest level since September 2003.
The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment rebounded in January, rising to 78.4, after readings of 75.5 in December and 76.1 in November. Gains were seen in both the current conditions and consumer expectations components. Short-term inflation expectations ticked down in January, falling 0.4 percentage point to 4.0 percent. Longer-term (5-year to 10-year) inflation expectations declined slightly to 3.4 percent.