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The Economy Added 200,000 in January (and This Wasn’t Even the Best News)

The latest jobs report from the government is a particularly strong one. Not only did…

  • February 9, 2018

The latest jobs report from the government is a particularly strong one. Not only did the economy produce about 20,000 more jobs than expected in January, but paychecks are finally growing at a strong pace.

According to the labor department, total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 200,000 in January and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.1 percent.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for Blacks increased to 7.7 percent in January, and the rate for Whites edged down to 3.5 percent. The jobless rates for adult men (3.9 percent), adult women (3.6 percent), teenagers (13.9 percent), Asians (3.0 percent), and Hispanics (5.0 percent) showed little change.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 1.4 million in January and accounted for 21.5 percent of the unemployed.

Strong Job Gains in Construction, Food Services, Health Care and Manufacturing

Employment continued to trend up in construction, food services and drinking places, health care, and manufacturing.

Construction added 36,000 jobs in January, with most of the increase occurring among specialty trade contractors (+26,000). Employment in residential building construction continued to trend up over the month (+5,000). Over the year, construction employment has increased by 226,000.

Employment in health care continued to trend up in January (+21,000), with a gain of 13,000 in hospitals. In 2017, health care added an average of 24,000 jobs per month.

In January, employment in manufacturing remained on an upward trend (+15,000). Durable goods industries added 18,000 jobs. Manufacturing has added 186,000 jobs over the past 12 months.

But Here’s the Really Good News

Worker pay finally rose at the strong pace economists have been looking to see, given the tightening labor market.

In January, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 9 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 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 3 cents to $22.34 in January.

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