WASHINGTON (2/4/13)--Credit Union National Association Chief Economist Bill Hampel addressed recent job numbers, and what they mean for the overall economy, in a Friday appearance on Bloomberg Television's Bottom Line with Mark Crumpton.
Hampel noted that recent revisions and January job numbers added around 800,000 employees to government employment estimates. "That suggests there is quite a bit more momentum in the economy than we thought," he said.
The U.S. Department of Labor on Friday reported that employers added 157,000 jobs in January. The unemployment rate remained essentially unchanged at 7.9%, the department added. Hampel said these monthly numbers were close to what was expected. January's growth, combined with a 650,000 job revision to previous estimates, produced the 800,000 additional worker result.
The unemployment rate should gradually improve if the U.S. economy adds more than 200,000 jobs per month, resulting in an unemployment rate of 7.5% or less by the end of 2013, he noted.
"What's going on in the economy right now is that the private sector is actually establishing some momentum." Household sector and corporate balance sheets are improving, and business investment is improving. While looming public sector cuts would not be good for the overall economy, this private sector improvement could help make up for "any significant reduction in employment caused by any federal cuts," he added.
Low income communities were disproportionately hurt by the economic slowdown, and "it's only now that many of the lower income communities are beginning to see gains in employment and gains in income. "They typically lag the rest of the economy, that's one of the reasons it's so important to get the economy going," Hampel said.