Published: Sun, February 03, 2019
Money | By Ethel Goodwin

US Employers Add 304,000 Jobs in January

US Employers Add 304,000 Jobs in January

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.

Gains occurred in a number of sectors: Leisure and hospitality added 74,000 jobs, construction 52,000, health care 42,000, retail almost 21,000 and manufacturing 13,000.

Private economists had expected an increase of about 170,000 jobs and the unemployment rate to be unchanged.

The unemployment rate rose to 4 percent from 3.9 percent in December, but that uptick appeared to be a temporary result of the month-long government shutdown. Following revisions, job gains have averaged 241,000 per month since November.

Average hourly earnings rose 0.1% from January, which is slower than the past few months, but still 3.2% over the year - well above inflation. Leisure and hospitality employment growth has been exceptional recently, adding 247,000 total jobs in the last four months.

The unemployment rate has risen to 4 percent from 3.9 percent in December. The central bank, which raised rates four times a year ago, did not raise rates and cited "global economic and financial developments" and low US inflation as reasons to be patient before changing rates again.

Businesses created 304,000 jobs in January, the Labor Department said on Friday.

Here's a brief rundown on how the shutdown did and did not affect the January unemployment report.

While the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the partial government shutdown cost the USA gross domestic product $11 billion ($8 billion of which is expected to be recovered later in the year), the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that it had little effect on hiring. Some employers are still reluctant to offer higher pay, which has made it harder for them to find and keep workers, she said.

Retail jobs, however, have stayed essentially flat over the past year as e-commerce - usually represented in the transportation and warehousing category - has taken over an increasing share of employment in the sector.

The furloughed workers were, however, considered unemployed on "temporary layoff" in the separate household survey from which the jobless rate is calculated. "Don't be surprised if we see something less robust". However, general merchandise stores - which saw a surge in hiring in last month's report - lost more than 12,000 jobs, with department stores suffering a almost 3,000 decline in jobs.

NOGUCHI: You're right. The longer term trend is what matters. This is the fastest rate of wage increases in almost a decade.

President Donald Trump, a cheerleader for good economic data, celebrated the numbers by posting a tweet on February 1: "JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!" That's a key reason why the unemployment rate rose despite the healthy job gain.

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