CHICAGO Employment at primary metal producers dipped 0.5 percent in January, losing just 200 jobs from the previous montha far cry from the 1,600 jobs that disappeared between November and December.
Metal fabrication shops reduced payrolls as well, cutting roughly 5,000 jobs (0.4 percent) last month compared with the loss of just 900 jobs in December, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data not seasonally adjusted.
The manufacturing sector as a whole saw total employment fall 90,000 (0.8 percent) compared with the loss of 3,000 jobs in December.
Even the bustling automotive industry lost jobs in January. Employment in plants that make motor vehicles and parts totaled 786,500 in January, down 1,700 jobs from the previous month but not enough to reverse Decembers gain of 3,700 jobs.
"Historical revisions showed more jobs (created in 2012) than previously thought. The economy added 181,000 jobs per month on average in 2012, not 153,000 as originally announced, so the labor market continues to improve gradually," said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist for IHS Global Insight Inc., Lexington, Mass.
Fourth-quarter employment growth averaged 201,000 jobs per month, seasonally adjusted, up from a previous estimate of 151,000, "a solid increase despite all the fiscal-cliff fears, which underscores that the fourth-quarter (gross domestic product) contraction (of 0.1 percent) isnt giving the right picture," Gault said.
Gault expects employment growth this year to at least match last years pace and do better in 2014.