It appears Mohamed El-Erian got what he was looking for.
Yesterday, the chief economic adviser at Allianz and former PIMCO CEO said Friday's jobs report would need to include at least 150,000 additions to indicate healthy U.S. employment growth.
Friday morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed an increase of 151,000 in non-farm payrolls through January, just hitting El-Erian's target, but missing the 188,000 Bloomberg consensus number.
El-Erian is also likely pleased to see the unemployment rate tick down modestly to 4.9% (its lowest level since February 2008), but the labor force participation rate remaining flat at 63% may come as a disappointment. (On Thursday he stressed importance of discouraged workers reentering the workforce to stimulate growth.)
And while the market seemed unfazed by the BLS report, with the S&P 500 largely flat in opening trading Friday, there were some substantial job gains in the retail, food services, and health care industries.
Retailers increased their workforce by 58,000 in January, primarily with a 15,000 gain in general merchandise stores, followed by roughly 9,000 and 8,000 new jobs in appliance stores and motor vehicle-related outlets.
The expansion in the industry could bode well for many struggling names such as Macy's (M) and Sears (SHLD), which have seen their shares plummet as investors fear America has become over-retailed, especially in light of expanding Web-distribution models such as Amazon's (AMZN).
"Take my word on this from covering the demise of Sears over the past 10 years: The company is devoid of key layers of management at the store operations level," Real Money's Brian Sozzi said in a recent report. "Why? The store base has been consolidated to save money, which sends key talent elsewhere. While this has happened, the remaining employees are less inspired to run tidy stores that actually turn a profit."
Macy's and Sears shares are down 36% and 44%, respectively, over the past 12 months. Meanwhile, Amazon's stock has surged 51% over the period.
Second in line of big job creators were food services companies, including bars and restaurants, which added 47,000 jobs in January, according to the BLS, increasing total growth on the year to 384,000. The healthc are industry also showed strong employment growth, as U.S. hospital workers increased by 24,000 for the month, boosting total health care jobs growth by 37,000.