The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced this morning that the unemployment rate for January rose slightly, but revisions to previous months showed a huge surge in hiring. The Non-Farm Payrolls report for January appeared pretty tepid at first glance with just 157,000 new jobs being added — slightly less than most economists had predicted. However, a similar figure from the December report (155,000) was revised upward to 196,000 and November's report jumped even more, from 161,000 all the way to 247,000. Those are huge boosts to the original estimates and a great sign that the economy may be picking up even faster than people realized. And if recent history remains the guide, this month's figure is likely be revised higher in future months.
As for the 7.9-percent unemployment figure (up from 7.8 last month), well, there are still a lot of people out of work. That is a problem, of course, but one it's mostly the result of state and local government cutting their budgets. Private companies continue to increase their hiring, and most imporantly, they have not been scared away by the never-ending budget fights in Congress.