January jobs report exceeds expectations 

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) released January’s jobs report Friday, noting 353,000 jobs were added and the unemployment rate remained at 3.7%. Jobs gains were mostly seen in professional and business services, health care, retail trade, and social assistance. January losses were seen in mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction industries.  

“The U.S. economy added 353,000 jobs in January, almost twice the size of consensus expectation,” said America’s Credit Unions’ Dawit Kebede. “The report also revised the job gains for the previous two months by 226,000. This puts the three-month average job gain at 290,000, much faster than the 165,000 we saw last month. The BLS also conducts annual benchmarking for the previous year which revises the monthly job gains resulting in an overall addition of 359,000 jobs. This indicates that the labor market is stronger than previously reported. The unemployment rate remains unchanged at 3.7%. 

“The average hourly earnings increased 4.5% over the year, higher than inflation leading to positive real wage growth. This will potentially continue to sustain consumer spending and economic growth. This wage growth is higher than the equilibrium level that is consistent with a 2% inflation target. However, a more comprehensive wage measure, the employment cost index, shows more moderation than the average hourly earnings.  

“This report is more likely to make the Federal Reserve hold interest rates where they are in March,” concluded Kebede. 

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