The U.S. economy, surpassing expectations, added 304,000 jobs in January, indicating the economy remains as strong as it has been in recent months. Economists had been expecting gains of about 180,000 new jobs for the month.
The unemployment rate ticked up slightly from 3.9% to 4%, mainly due to the government shutdown. The U.S. government was closed from December 22, 2018 until January 25, 2019 in the longest shutdown in the nation’s history. As a result, the number of Americans who reported being on temporary layoff increased by 175,000.
The figure includes furloughed federal employees classified as unemployed under the definitions used the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the government agency that issues the monthly employment report.
Wages ticked up slightly, as average hourly earnings increased by 3 cents to $27.56. Over the year hourly earnings have grown by 85 cents, or 3.2%. The labor force participation rate, the mark that measures the percentage of working class Americans either employed or actively seeking employment, remained virtually unchanged at 63.2%. It has grown by half a percentage point over the last year.
Industries showing the strongest gains were leisure and hospitality with 74,000 new jobs added, construction with 52,000 new jobs added, and health care with 42,000 new jobs added. Professional and business services also showed strong gains with 30,000 and 21,000 positions added respectively.
President Donald Trump touted the news in a tweet Friday morning. “JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!,” the President wrote on Twitter.
Economists had feared that ongoing trade tensions with China could put a damper on business investment. So far however, those concerns seem to have been kept at bay.
President Donald Trump is optimistic that a bilateral trade deal currently under negotiation between the U.S. and China will be a boon for American businesses. “China’s representatives and I are trying to do a complete deal, leaving NOTHING unresolved on the table,” the President wrote on Twitter last week.
No deal will be finalized however until after the President and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet face to face to discuss outstanding issues. The President said a meeting between the two leaders is scheduled to take place in the “near future.”
President Trump has set March 1 as a deadline for a trade deal with China to be completed before new sanctions against China are issued and existing ones are strengthened.
Photo by Bryan Mason via Flickr