A mixed bag in Friday's monthly jobless report: The unemployment rate dipped from 5% to 4.9% in January, the first time it's fallen below 5% in eight years, reports AP. What's more, average wages rose .5% to $25.39, "another sign of a healthy labor market," observes MarketWatch. Growth, however, appears to be slowing: Employers added 151,000 jobs, short of the expected 185,000 and well off December's newly adjusted figure of 262,000. Volatility in the world's markets may have unnerved employers, and a snowy month probably didn't help. Investors digesting the report didn't seem pleased: Stock futures were dropping.
As usual, the report will add to speculation on whether the Fed chooses to again raise interest rates, though another jobs report will be out before that March decision. And this one isn't much help in reading the tea leaves. “If people were looking for support from the data to say the Fed is going to get off the tightening path, I don’t think the data is conclusive enough for us to feel that way,” an investment officer at OppenheimerFunds tells the Wall Street Journal. (Read more unemployment stories.)