2020 Begins with Strong Job Growth

A new report from the Labor Department shows the economy added 225,000 in January, way more than the 160,000 or so economists were expecting. Other data shows that America’s total workforce increased during the month, an indication that discouraged workers may be re-joining the workforce.

Notable job gains occurred in construction, in health care, and in transportation and warehousing.

Both the unemployment rate, at 3.6 percent, and the number of unemployed persons, at 5.9 million, changed little in January.

After accounting for the annual adjustments to the population controls, the civilian labor force rose by 574,000 in January, and the labor force participation rate edged up by 0.2 percentage point to 63.4 percent.

In January, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 7 cents to $28.44.

Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 3.1 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees were $23.87 in January, little changed over the month (+3 cents).

However, the average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at a disappointing 34.3 hours in January. This puts a damper on weekly pay gains, which are rising at around 2.5% despite the increased hourly wage growth.

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