Meanwhile, the unemployment rate dropped to 9 percent despite the net creation of only 36,000 jobs.
The number of long-term unemployed — those who are out of work for at least six months — edged down to 6.2 million and accounted for 43.8 percent of the unemployed, the report showed.
A new measurement phased in by the Labor Department in January found that the average length of unemployment is now at an all-time record of 36.9 weeks, or 9 months.
"We’re starting to see a tale of two cities unfold — one where corporations net major profits and warily add to payrolls, and another where millions of unemployed workers face increasing risk of being left behind," said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project. "Despite conflicting signs in January’s report and weather-related impacts, one thing is clear: the anemic rate of job growth last month is not enough to get the economy on sound footing."
Owens noted that Congress needs to reauthorize Trade Adjustment Assistance to help workers who've lost their jobs because of increasing imports.
On Thursday, 14 senators urged House Republican and Democratic leaders to pass a bill before the program expires Feb. 12.
"We also can’t afford to weaken the nation’s best retraining and unemployment programs that have helped millions of trade-affected workers and helped mitigate economic damage,” Owens said.
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (8.8 percent), whites (8.0 percent), and Hispanics (11.9 percent) declined in January. The unemployment rates for adult women (7.9 percent), teenagers (25.7 percent), and blacks (15.7 percent) were little changed. The jobless rate for Asians was 6.9 percent.
The number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs fell from 8.9 million to 8.5 million in January.
The number of persons employed part-time for economic reasons declined from 8.9 to 8.4 million, while 2.8 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, up from 2.5 million a year earlier. Those workers weren't in the labor force, looking for employment and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey.
Among the marginally attached, there were 1.0 million discouraged workers in January, about the same as a year earlier. Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.8 million persons marginally attached to the labor force had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.
Owens said nine states still need to pass legislation allowing workers to receive 13 to 20 weeks of unemployment extended benefits fully funded by the federal government — Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.
“Twenty-six states have acted to provide 13 to 20 weeks of federally-funded extended benefits to long-term jobless workers who have exhausted their regular state and federal emergency benefits," she said. "The nine states that have yet to act are denying long-term jobless workers, their families and their communities the critical support they need to make it through the recovery."