U.S. employers add 227,000 new jobs in January, ends Obama administration on ‘solid’ note

by Wesley Brown ([email protected]) 323 views 

The nation’s jobless rate rose in January to 4.8% and added 227,000 new payroll jobs as the new Trump administration takes over the reins of the nation’s economy, according to data released Friday (Feb. 3) by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In the final complete snapshot of the nation’s workforce under the administration of President Barack Obama, the U.S. economy added 156,000 workers in December and ended the year with a jobless rate of 4.7%. For the month, the number of unemployed persons held 7.6 million. Job gains occurred in retail trade, construction, and financial activities, BLS data shows.

The Labor Department report closely mirrors the highly-watched ADP national employment report, which is culled from statistical methodologies similar to those used by the BLS to compute employment from its monthly survey of establishments.

On Wednesday (Feb. 1), ADP reported that private sector jobs increased by 246,000 between months. Most of the new jobs, about 201,000, came from service-providing industries, including 71,000 in professional and technical services, ADP data.

“2017 got off to a strong start in the job market. Job growth is solid across most industries and company sizes,” Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics said. “Even the energy sector is adding to payrolls again.”

Added Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute: “The U.S. labor market is hitting on all cylinders and we saw small and midsized businesses perform exceptionally well. Further analysis shows that services gains have rebounded from their tepid December pace, adding 201,000 jobs. The goods producers added 46,000 jobs, which is the strongest job growth that sector has seen in the last two years.”

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for Asians (3.7%) increased in January, the BLS reported. The jobless rates for adult men (4.4%), adult women (4.4%), teenagers (15%, Whites (4.3%), Blacks (7.7%), and Hispanics (5.9%) showed little or no change over the month.

For the month, the number of long-term unemployed, or those jobless for 27 weeks or more, held steady at 1.9 million and accounted for 24.4% of the unemployed. Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed has declined by 244,000. Another 1.8 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, down by 337,000 from a year earlier. These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey, BLS officials said.

Retail trade employment increased by 46,000 over the month and by 229,000 over the year. Three industries added jobs in January – clothing and clothing accessories stores (+18,000), electronics and appliance stores (+8,000), and furniture and home furnishings stores (+6,000).

Employment in construction rose by 36,000 in January, following little change in December. Residential building added 9,000 jobs over the month, and employment continued to trend up among residential specialty trade contractors (+11,000). Over the past 12 months, construction has added 170,000 jobs.

Financial activities added 32,000 jobs in January, with gains in real estate (+10,000), insurance carriers and related activities (+9,000), and credit intermediation and related activities (+9,000). Financial activities added an average of 15,000 jobs per month in 2016.

Employment in professional and technical services rose by 23,000 in January, about in line with the average monthly gain in 2016. Over the month, job gains occurred in computer systems design and related services (+13,000).

Employment in food services and drinking places continued to trend up in January (+30,000). This industry added 286,000 jobs over the past 12 months. Employment in health care also continued to trend up in January (+18,000), following a gain of 41,000 in December. The industry has added 374,000 jobs over the past 12 months.

Employment in other major industries, including mining and logging, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, and government, showed little change over the month.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.4 hours in January. In manufacturing, the workweek edged up by 0.1 hour to 40.8 hours, while overtime edged down by 0.1 hour to 3.2 hours.

Average hourly earnings in January for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 3 cents to $26.00, following a 6-cent increase in December. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.5 percent. In January, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 4 cents to $21.84.

Total nonfarm payroll employment for November was revised down from 204,000 to 164,000, and the change for December was revised upward from 156,000 to 157,000. Those changes put make employment gains in November and December nearly 39,000 lower than previously reported.