The jobs came back in January - but barely- after what turned out to be a far-worse December for job cuts.
The Labor Department announced Friday hiring was up a smaller-than-expected 49,000 in January, compared to the loss of 227,000 jobs in December, proving the first drop in payrolls in eight months was much bigger than first reported.
That, along with last month's modest rebound in hiring, could bolster the argument from the new Biden Administration for another big stimulus package for out-of-work Americans.
The unemployment rate came in at 6.3 percent in January and the hiring last month barely but a dent in the more than 9 million jobs needed to get the labor market back to where it was before the health crisis forced millions out of work.
And there was more pain for workers in those segments of the economy forced to shutdown or curtail operations. Leisure and hospitality lost another 61,000 jobs last month and retail jobs were down by nearly 39,000. One notable factor in January's weak hiring numbers: jobs in the health care and social services industry swung from a net gain to a loss of 40,000 in January.
The latest jobs report is sure to weigh on Senate Democrats who are working to push Biden's $1.9 trillion economic relief plan through Congress, with or without the help of fellow Republicans.