United States employers added a robust 304,000 in January

Roman Schwartz
February 4, 2019

The American economy added 304,000 jobs in January.

The numbers exclude farm work, which is seasonal and often volatile. The two astonishing numbers were the top-line jobs number - 312,000 new jobs - and the 11 cent rise in average hourly earnings.

Wage growth held steady in January.

January marked a record 100 straight months of job gains. What this largely speaks to is what the jobs market was prior to the government shutdown.

The strong job market is also encouraging more people who weren't working to begin looking. "Nearly all of this increase occurred in the private sector and may reflect the impact of the partial federal government shutdown", it said.

Data from the employment site Glassdoor shows that the number of job postings rose almost 9 percent in late January compared with a year earlier, suggesting that demand for labor remained strong. That's a key reason why the unemployment rate rose despite the healthy job gain.

"This jobs report is showing no evidence of an economy slowing, certainly not falling into recession", Michelle Meyer, chief United States economist for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, told the New York Times. Also worth noting was that the more than 300,000 federal workers who were furloughed had an impact on the reporting. The central bank, which raised rates four times previous year, did not raise rates and cited "global economic and financial developments" and low US inflation as reasons to be patient before changing rates again. The furloughed employees, though, were not counted as unemployed even if they did receive unemployment benefits during the shutdown.

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"As the jobs and employment data normalizes over the coming months, we are confident the nation's economy will continue to build on the strength seen in 2018 and the first report of 2019", said Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta. Government shutdown or not, this looked like a big report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for January's employment situation. That's just below the annual gain of 3.3 percent in December, which matched October and November for the fastest increase since April 2009. But in the other survey, which measures the jobless rate, a lot of these same workers were counted as unemployed.

These numbers beat expectations, with Bloomberg economists predicting 165,000 jobs would be added for the month of January.

It was boosted by a 500,000 increase in the number of people working part time, likely because of the government shutdown.

"This is the sweet spot for investors right now", Long said.

What do the USA jobs numbers mean for Wall Street?

The average workweek was unchanged at 34.5 hours in January.

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