WASHINGTON -- The nation's employers added 157,000 jobs in January, in line with expectations, and the unemployment rate ticked up a tenth of a percentage point to 7.9 percent, the government reported Friday.Economic forecasters had expected a number around 165,000, and that is pretty much where private-sector employment came in last month, at 166,000. The overall jobs number was dragged down by 9,000 lost government jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.January's numbers were a slight setback from the monthly average of more than 180,000 jobs for 2012. The good news was that employment is not deteriorating sharply. The bad news was that even with Friday's upward revision by a combined 127,000 jobs for November and December estimates, hiring remains far from robust."The job market continues to slowly, but steadily, improve. Most encouraging was the big upward revisions to job growth last year, especially at the end of the year," said Mark Zandi, chief economist of forecaster Moody's Analytics. "Fears of going over the fiscal cliff had no discernible impact on the job market and economy. Most frustrating is the still-high unemployment rate, which notched higher last month."To really begin to knock down stubbornly high unemployment, the economy needs to create 250,000 or 300,000 jobs per month, and that still seems a very tough task. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has said he will not back away from controversial efforts to stimulate the economy until the jobless rate has come down to 6.5 percent and stays there. Friday's report suggested that the Fed will stay active in the economy well into next year.If the jobs numbers were a slight disappointment Friday, two other closely watched indicators were stronger than expected. Consumer sentiment, as measured by an index compiled by the University of Michigan and Thomson Reuters, came in strong. And an index of manufacturing activity measured by the Institute of Supply Management rose to its highest level since April, well above consensus expectations.There were positive signs in Friday's jobs report. About 33,000 jobs were added in the retail sector. Perhaps the best sign came from the hard-hit construction section, which added 28,000 jobs in January after adding 30,000 in December.Construction has been in the dumps since the 2008 financial crisis, which was brought about in part by problems in mortgage finance. With housing now finally adding to the growth rate, construction employment is expected to continue picking up.