Jobs in America — where are they?

Construction, retail, health care and technology are all hiring right now. Employment experts are advising job hunters to remain flexible in their search.

Data released by the Labor Department Friday show that employers added 157,000 jobs to their payrolls in January. So where is the hiring happening? According to the data, the construction, retail and health care industries all added new jobs last month.

Despite the boost in hiring, however, the unemployment rate still crept up to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent.

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"We can expect a slow, steady, fluctuating economy for the next 10 years," said Seia Milin, an employment expert with the Seattle Times.. "The economy is not consistent — it's going up and down. We are not going to see a beautiful spike bringing the U.S. where it was before 2007."

The Labor Department report shows an increase in hourly earnings and solid gains in construction and retail employment.

"The reality is, after the recession, some of the hardest hit industries were construction and retail," said Milin. "So it is refreshing to see them slowly coming back after suffering for the last four years."

Construction

Construction jobs are expected to rise further as the housing market recovery gains momentum. The construction industry is expected to support the economy this year, taking over from manufacturing.

"The construction industry on the East Coast may have benefited from Hurricane Sandy," Milin said. "Construction may be more stimulated now from the growth we are seeing in the economy."

Acting Secretary of Labor Seth Harris said in a statement this morning that the "recent strengthening of the housing market, in particular, is driving welcome growth in construction employment."

Employment in construction increased by 28,000 in January. The majority of the job growth took place in specialty trade contractors, split equally between residential and non-residential specialty trade contractors.

The Labor Department report shows that construction employment has grown by 296,000 since reaching a low in January 2011, with one-third of the gain occurring in the last four months.

Retail

Retail jobs rose by a solid 33,000 in January, with job growth continuing in motor vehicle and parts dealers, electronics and appliance stores, and clothing stores.

"This indicates confidence in buying power," said Milin, "although I am not sure if we are getting too confident too fast. Once we start buying luxury items, that will indicate more confidence in our spending habits."

Health care

Health care added 23,000 jobs in January, with job growth occurring in ambulatory health care services, which includes doctors' offices and outpatient care centers.

"Health care has always been strong," Milin said. "They were still growing during the economic downturn." Milin cautioned, however, that the industry has the potential to become a bubble.

Milin added that engineering and IT jobs are expected to keep growing for the foreseeable future, as are jobs in the mobile-device industry. "There's high demand in that sector and not enough skilled labor, so it would be a pretty safe area to get training," she said.

Milin's advice to job seekers? "Be flexible — you may not see the pay you were used to before 2007 but that shouldn't deter you. Any experience — even volunteering — can add to your resume."

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More:  Industries at a glance

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