U.S. employers added a robust 304,000 in January

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Despite a partial government shutdown that lasted for much of the month, the USA economy added 304,000 jobs in January, according to the Labor Department.

Accordingly, one would expect that the headline establishment survey jobs number will not capture the employment disruption caused by the shutdown, but instead will reflect the prevailing labor market forces for the month of January. The aggregate weekly payrolls index that combines average hourly earnings, average weekly hours, and employment, grew by a solid 0.3% m/m, lifting its yr/yr gain to 5.7%-and should support strong consumption growth in January.

The new numbers were welcome news for President Donald Trump, whose already-low public approval rating suffered in the wake of the longest government shutdown in USA history. The Labor Department said that increase might be attributable to private-sector contractors who lost work during the lapse in funding. The BLS reported that nonfarm payrolls rose by 304,000 and private sector payrolls rose by 296,000 in the month of January. "A whopping half million more people forced into part time instead of full time for economic reasons in January", tweeted Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton. The unemployment rate rose from 3.9% to 4% due to federal employees who were furloughed by the government shutdown being counted as unemployed. The furloughed employees, though, were not counted as unemployed even if they did receive unemployment benefits during the shutdown.

Job gains mainly occurred in leisure and hospitality, construction, health care, and transportation and warehousing, the bureau said.

On a monthly basis, from December to January, wages barely rose, though.

Non-farm payrolls for December was revised from 312,000 to 222,000, while private payrolls was revised from 301,000 to 206,000.

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One issue to consider, aside from the government shutdown, is that sometimes attention has to be paid to the special notes and changes made to the pooling of information.

The labor force participation rate was 63.2%, and the employment-population ratio came in at 60.7%. By contrast, the overall economy has increased the number of jobs by 1.9%-and 0.2% last month.

Numerous remaining furloughed federal employees were classified as "employed but absent from work", so those employees were not counted in the unemployment rate. This is the fastest rate of wage increases in almost a decade. Hiring was likely boosted by mild temperatures in January.

The jobs report released Friday has received generally positive reactions, with the number of new positions created far surpassing expectations.

NOGUCHI: You're right. The longer term trend is what matters. I also predict that earnings will post a 7-cent increase, for a 3.1 percent year-over-year gain.

January marked a record 100 straight months of job gains.

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