Jobs Report: January Brought Retail Growth & Solid Employment Gains

Jobs Report: January Brought Retail Growth & Solid Employment Gains

USA employers shrugged off last month's partial shutdown of the government and engaged in a burst of hiring in January, adding 304,000 jobs, the most in almost a year.

Spurred by an increasingly tight labor market, average wages continue to rise, gaining 3 cents per hour.

Growth of 100,000 jobs per month is required in the United States to keep pace with growth in the working-age population. The BLS also indicated that almost all of this increase was in the private sector and may reflect the impact of the partial federal government shutdown.

Friday's solid jobs report provided a dose of reassurance that the economy remains mostly healthy and likely to shake off any effects of the shutdown.

"Some of the unexpectedly large jump in hiring appeared to have been pulled forward from December, which was revised down from 312,000 jobs to 222,000", CNN reported. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that it lowered annual growth for the January-March quarter by about 0.4 percentage point, to a rate of 2.1 percent.

Even though the shutdown was not expected to interrupt the average 200,000 jobs per month that have been added over the last decade, some in the White House had been bracing for weaker-than-expected results. The unemployment rate rose slightly to 4%. Last week's applications for unemployment benefits came in at 253,000, above from the 49-year low hit earlier in the month but still low by historical standards. Also worth noting was that the more than 300,000 federal workers who were furloughed had an impact on the reporting.

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The continued acceleration in nonfarm job growth since late 2017 is remarkable and likely attributable to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. They were not included in the unemployment rate, either.

The current economic recovery is now only five months away from becoming the longest expansion ever, a record set in the 1990s, when the economy went 120 months in between recessions, as defined by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The strong job market is also encouraging more people who weren't working to begin looking. "That doesn't necessarily signal a dramatic change in the trend for the job market or the USA economy". Employment in the leisure and hospitality industry added 74,000 jobs, while construction added 52,000 positions in January. They are counted as employed because they will receive back pay for the period.

Overall, healthcare employment increased by 368,000 jobs over the past year, according to the bureau.

While the month-long government shutdown didn't greatly affect jobs numbers, there was a slight impact. Stocks on Wall Street rose, while U.S. Treasury prices fell.

Manufacturing payrolls increased by 13,000, slowing from December's 20,000 increase.

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