The new year started off with an old story: Employment grew again in January but not at a pace able to lower the jobless rate.
Nonfarm payrolls rose 157,000 for the first month of 2013 while the unemployment rate edged higher to 7.9 percent, news unlikely to alter the Federal Reserve's monetary policy or instill confidence that the recovery is gaining steam.
Economists were looking for 160,000 net new jobs created with the unemployment rate holding steady at 7.8 percent.
Though some recent economic reports, particularly in housing, show an economy on the mend, gains in jobs have been hard to come bay.
Average job creation for 2012 was around 151,000, considered near the benchmark for the unemployment rate to stabilize but not fall.
Most significantly, Federal Reserve monetary policy is now tied directly to the jobless rate. The U.S. central bank has said it will not alter its zero interest rate policy until the jobless rate falls to 6.5 percent and inflation eclipses 2.5 percent.
-By CNBC's Jeff Cox
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