Other recent economic data has been mixed. A survey of manufacturing firms found that factory expansion slowed in January, as a measure of new orders plummeted. A separate gauge of forthcoming home sales also fell.
But a survey of service companies, which covered retailers, construction contractors, and financial services firms, among others, found that growth accelerated last month.
Employers added just 113,000 jobs in January, a second straight weak showing after just 75,000 new jobs in December. Economists have partly blamed December's figures on extremely cold weather.
There were some good signs in January's report. The unemployment rate fell to a five-year low of 6.6 percent, from 6.7 percent. The decline occurred because more of those out of work found jobs. That was an improvement from December, when the rate fell because many of the unemployed stopped searching for work. The government only counts people as unemployed if they are actively looking.