U.S. job market rebounds with 200,000 job adds in January, unemployment rate unchanged at 4.1%

by Wesley Brown ([email protected]) 153 views 

U.S. employers added 200,000 jobs in the first month of the new year, well above Wall Street expectations as the nation’s jobless rate remained stable at 4.1% for the fourth straight month, according to the monthly employment picture released Friday (Feb. 2) by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The January unemployment report is a turnaround from last month’s report when 160,000 nonfarm jobs added to payrolls in December, well below Wall Street expectations of 190,000. A consensus of economists across the country had forecasted a total of 175,000 jobs would be added to the nation’s economy in the first employment report for 2018.

In 2017, U.S. payroll employment growth totaled 2.1 million, slightly below a gain of 2.2 million in 2016. In January, employment continued to trend up in construction, food services and drinking places, health care and manufacturing as the number of unemployed persons, at 6.7 million, changed little over the month.

Among the major employment groups, the rate for African-American workers increased to 7.7%, while the rate for whites edged down to 3.5%. The jobless rates for adult men (3.9%), adult women (3.6%), teenagers (13.9%), Asians (3%) and Hispanics (5%) showed little change.

The January jobs report from the U.S. Labor Department follows the closely-watched ADP National Employment released earlier in the week. That report showed private sector employment increased by 234,000 jobs from December to January.

“We’ve kicked off the year with another month of unyielding job gains,” said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute. “Service providers were firing on all cylinders, posting their strongest gain in more than a year.  We also saw robust hiring from midsize and large companies, while job growth in smaller firms slowed slightly.”

Added Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics: “The job market juggernaut marches on. Given the strong January job gain, 2018 is on track to be the eighth consecutive year in which the economy creates over 2 million jobs. If it falls short, it is likely because businesses can’t find workers to fill all the open job positions.”

Nationwide, the number of long-term unemployed, or those jobless for 27 weeks or more, was little changed at 1.4 million in January and accounted for 21.5% of the unemployed. The labor force participation rate was 62.7% for the fourth consecutive month and the employment-population ratio was 60.1% for the third month in a row.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons was essentially unchanged at 5 million in January. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

There were 1.7 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in January, hardly changed 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.

Among the marginally attached in January, there were 451,000 discouraged workers, or those persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.2 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in January had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

Among the 200,000 job adds in January, construction added 36,000 jobs month-to-month with most of the increase occurring among specialty trade contractors. Employment in food services and drinking places continued to trend up with 31,000 new positions as the industry has added 255,000 jobs over the past 12 months.

The robust health care added another 21,000 jobs in January with a gain of 13,000 in hospitals. In 2017, health care added an average of 24,000 jobs per month. Employment in manufacturing remained on an upward trend with 15,000 durable goods industries adding 8,000 jobs. Manufacturing has added a surprising 86,000 jobs over the past 12 months.

Employment in other major industries, including mining, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, professional and business services and government, changed little over the month.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls declined by 0.2 hours to 34.3 hours in January. In manufacturing, the workweek declined by 0.2 hours to 40.6 hours, while overtime remained at 3.5 hours.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by nine cents to $26.74, following an 11-cent gain in December. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 75 cents, or 2.9%. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by three cents to $22.34 in January.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for November was revised downward from 252,000 to 216,000, and the change for December was revised up from 148,000 to 160,000. Those revisions in November and December combined were 24,000 less than previously reported.

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