U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez greets workers with Alicia's Tamales Los Mayas while visiting La Cocina in January in San Francisco. (Photo: Justin Sullivan Getty Images)
(USA TODAY) -- The job market showed another weak gain last month as employers added 113,000 jobs, though weather may have distorted the employment picture for the second straight month.
The unemployment rate fell to 6.6% from 6.7%, the Labor Department said Friday.
Job gains for November and December were revised up by a total 34,000. November's gains were revised to 274,000 from 241,000 and December's to 75,000 from 74,000.
Economists surveyed by Action Economics estimated 185,000 jobs were added last month, according to their median forecast.
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Businesses added 142,000 jobs. Federal, state and local governments cut 29,000.
Construction companies led job gains with 48,000. Professional and business services added 36,000; leisure and hospitality, 24,000 jobs, and manufacturers, 21,000.
Average weekly hours were unchanged at 34.4. Average hourly earnings rose 5 cents to $24.21.
A broader measure of distress in the job market known as the underemployment rate fell sharply to 12.7% from 13.1%. That includes the unemployed as well as people working part-time even though they prefer full-time jobs and discouraged workers who have stopped looking for jobs.
Cold weather was largely blamed for the disappointing number of jobs added in December, a sharp drop from the average 200,000-plus monthly gains from August through November. Some economists expected a sharp bounce-back last month as workers kept home by the inclement December weather returned to work. But others figured more bad weather in January again would depress employment totals.
Other economic reports have been mixed lately. A measure of manufacturing activity last month fell sharply in part because of weather effects. But an index of service-sector activity rose solidly and initial jobless claims - a gauge of layoffs - declined last week.
Economists generally have expected the economy and job market to pick up this year on an accelerating housing recovery and lower household debt, among other factors.