The U.S. job market extended its momentum into the new year as employers added 257,000 jobs in January and wages jumped. The overall unemployment rate ticked up to 5.7 percent, but the rate rose because of a good reason: More Americans felt encouraged enough to start looking for jobs, and because some didn't find work right away, they increased the number of unemployed.
Jobless rates across most demographic groups were little changed from December, except for a jump in the rates for teenagers and recent veterans. Young workers in their early 20s enjoyed the biggest monthly improvement in their unemployment rate — down a full percentage point to 9.8 percent.
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The numbers underscore that some groups are faring far better than others, with historical gaps between racial and ethnic groups persisting.
At 10.3 percent, the unemployment rate for black Americans was more than double that of white Americans. The rate for high school dropouts was three times the rate for college graduates.
Recent veterans are also struggling. Though the nation has added more than 3 million jobs over the past 12 months, the January unemployment rate for veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan remained unchanged from a year earlier at 7.9 percent.
|Unemployment rate by group:|
|(Numbers in percentages)||Jan. 2015||Dec. 2014||Jan. 2014|
|20-24 years old:||9.8||10.8||11.9|
|25-54 years old:||4.8||4.7||5.6|
|55 and over:||4.1||3.9||4.5|
|Veterans of Iraq/Afghanistan*:||7.9||6.9||7.9|
|No high school diploma:||8.5||8.6||9.6|
|High school graduate:||5.4||5.3||6.5|
|Duration of Unemployment:|
|Average length (weeks):||32.3||32.8||35.3|
|Jobless 6 months or more (percent):||31.5||31.9||35.6|
|*Not seasonally adjusted|
|Source: Labor Department|