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.
The ho-hum jobs numbers for January were accompanied by substantial revisions higher for previous months, according to the report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Traders reacted positively to the report, providing a healthy gain at the market open.
"The market certainly likes it," said Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab. The revisions "may be the real bright spot of the report."
A report earlier this week indicated that third-quarter growth actually contracted 0.1 percent, but Friday's jobs numbers contradicted the gross domestic product read.
But November job creation rose from the originally reported 161,000 to 247,000, while December was pushed upward to 196,000 from 155,000.
"The gains we've received on the January jobs report are the start of positive readings for the foreseeable future," said Todd Schoenberger, managing partner at LandColt Capital. "The first quarter has historically delivered surprises to the upside anyway, so expect January revisions and February-March readings to be significantly positive."
Retail led the way in January with 33,000 new jobs, while construction rose 28,000 and health care added 23,000.
Transportation and warehousing shed 14,000 positions while hospitality positions such as bartenders and waiters, which led the way through much of 2012, was little changed.
The numbers come as Congress debates deficit-reduction measures and the looming possibility of deep spending cuts known as sequestration.