Employers Beat Expectations, Adding 227,000 Jobs in January

(CN) – Employers took a robust approach to hiring in January, adding 227,000 jobs — enough to significantly surpass the expectations of economists and inspire many who had dropped out of the job market to jump back in.

The Labor Department said Friday that January’s bump in employment growth was the job market’s best showing since September. It also far surpassed last year’s average monthly gain of 187,000.

The expansion of opportunities also inspired more people to re-enter the job market, which caused the nation’s unemployment rate to move up slightly to a still-low 4.8 percent in January, up from 4.7 percent in December.

According to the government, the percentage of adults working or looking for jobs last month reached its highest level since September. The uptick simply shows that they all didn’t immediately find a job and are still looking, the Labor Department said.

Overall, the numbers show that President Donald Trump inherited a healthy economy from former President Barack Obama (Indeed much of the hiring in the report occurred before Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20.). But there are still some weakness out there: average hourly wages have been slow to rise, and the number of people working part time who would rather work full-time rose, the Labor Department said.

On a more granular level, the government said employment increased most in the retail, construction and financial sectors.

Retailers added 46,000 jobs over the month and by 229,000 over the year. Three specific retail segments led the hiring: 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.

In January, employment in professional and technical services rose by 23,000, 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, the Labor Department said.