The New Year Starts off Strong with Employment Gains

Employers added 227,000 jobs in January, exceeding economists’ expectations and marking the 76th consecutive month of job growth. This extends the record streak of job creation in the US and could reflect an economy that is approaching full employment.

Both the number of unemployed persons, at 7.6 million, and the unemployment rate, at 4.8 percent, were little changed from the prior month. The labor-force participation rate – Americans who had a job or were looking for one - ticked up to 62.9 percent from 62.7 percent in December, but it is still near its lowest level since the late 1970s.

The underemployment rate – people that are unemployed plus those who work part-time – rose 0.2 percent in January. Though the rate has fallen considerably in recent years, this is its highest level since October and nearly twice the level of the official jobless rate. Long-term unemployment – Americans out of work longer than six months – remains elevated at 24.4 percent.

America added 46,000 jobs in retail trade while construction rose by 36,000 and financial activities gained 32,000 jobs. Employment in health care also continued to trend up in January with an additional 18,000 positions being filled. Employment in other major industries, including mining, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, and information and government, showed little to no change over the month.

In January, average hourly earnings rose by 3-cents, following a 6-cent increase in December. Over the year, average hourly wages have risen by 2.5 percent, a sign of continued momentum from last year.

While this is the first jobs report to be released under the Trump administration, the survey was conducted weeks before the Presidential Inauguration so no doubt all of America will be watching closely to see how the state of unemployment starts to unfold.

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