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Calculated Risk isn't known as a bullish blogger, but even he argues that the U.S. Labor Department's swing-and-miss report on January payrolls was actually pretty good in the details.

The numbers certainly threw investors a curve ball on Friday morning: Employers added just 36,000 positions last month, versus expectations among economists for gains of 146,000.

Although there have been many disappointments when it comes to these official payrolls numbers (December was also a downer), this one was particularly at odds with forecasts and other economic reports, which had suggested that the U.S. economic recovery might be humming.

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However, Calculated Risk is a firm believer that January snow storms likely disrupted hiring plans during the report's survey period, which implies that February payrolls numbers should be considerably better.

There were other bits of good news in the report too. The unemployment rate fell to 9 per cent from 9.5 per cent, and the decline is only partly due to unemployed people giving up on looking for a job.

As well, the number of people unemployed for more than 26 weeks fell to 6.21 million from 6.44 million in December - a very high number, but at least moving in the right direction.

"If we blame it on the weather, this was a solid report," the blogger said.

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About the Author
Investing Reporter

David Berman has been writing about business and investing since 1995. He has written for a number of magazines, including Canadian Business and MoneySense. He worked at the Financial Post as an investing writer and daily columnist before moving to the Globe and Mail in 2008. More

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