Sunday, 25 August, 2019

America Created 304,000 Jobs in January, Smashing Estimates

A worker inspects the rear end of a General Motors Chevrolet Cruze at Jamestown Industries in Youngstown Ohio Modal Trigger AP
Russell Knight | 03 February, 2019, 17:44

Offering the latest snapshot of the economy, the official employment report out Friday showed the United States added significantly more jobs than expected in January and that wages increased despite the longest partial government shutdown in history. The unemployment rate rose from 3.9% to 4% due to federal employees who were furloughed by the government shutdown being counted as unemployed.

December was revised down from the originally reported 312,000 to 222,000.

"This is a solid report, particularly given how anxious people were", said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Bank. "But if you look at the trend [of job growth] recently, it's not decelerating".

MARTIN: So does that mean the job market, basically, escaped largely unscathed because of the shutdown last month? Now that the shutdown has ended, these people will go back to being counted as having just one job beginning in February.And for most of January, the weather was relatively warm in much of the United States, which likely boosted construction employment, which rose 52,000, the most in almost a year.The strong job market, though, is encouraging more people who weren't working to begin looking. This is the fastest rate of wage increases in almost a decade.

MARTIN: So explain how it seems to indicate that the government shutdown, which affected 800,000 federal workers, that had virtually no effect on the job market. They are counted as employed because they will receive back pay for the period.

In fact, the shutdown might have increased the number of jobs added as furloughed workers sought out part-time jobs.

During the shutdown, stories emerged of government workers driving for ride-sharing services and working odds jobs as a way to make ends meet during the month they went without a paycheck.

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St. Louis Fed President James Bullard on Friday defended the central bank's policy stance, telling CNBC that the jobs numbers were backward looking, and Dallas Fed chief Robert Kaplan called the payrolls report "noisy", pointing to a sharp rise in part-time jobs. The government itself also spent less. That continues to outpace inflation, which stands at about 2 percent.

Wages are being pushed up across a wide range of job sectors as the unemployment rate remains low and employers try to attract more workers with higher pay.

North said the rate is almost a flawless number, "not too hot" so as to spark fears of inflation, but "not too cold" to raise concerns about wage stagnation. The second-longest streak was from 1986 to 1990, when employers added jobs for 48 straight months.

January marks the 100th straight month of job growth in the US, a record more than twice as long as the previous one of 48 months set in June 1990.

MARTIN: So January - clearly, a big month for hiring. Many economists and investors took that as a sign that a rate increase is unlikely any time in the coming months.

Plus, the fiscal stimulus from the Republican tax cuts plan and increased federal spending is expected to run out at the end of 2019.

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