A robust job gain in January shows US economy’s durability

John Blanding  Globe Staff  File

John Blanding Globe Staff File

The jobs report also showed revisions for December's high job growth, changing the number of jobs added down to 222,000 from 312,000.

The economy added 304,000 nonfarm payrolls at the start of 2019, bringing the labour market into a 100th straight month of job creation and compared with forecasts for increase of 165,000.

The numbers exclude farm work, which is seasonal and often volatile.

Within healthcare, ambulatory healthcare services showed the most employment growth last month, adding 22,100 jobs.

An analyst at the United States investment bank Charles Schwab, Kully Samra, stated: "A tight labour market and healthy wage growth support economic growth, and today's data should buoy consumer spending and could boost the stock market".

For the full year of 2018, the average monthly jobs gain was 223,000.

This shift is largely due to the partial government shutdown.

Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, said that many federal workers and contractors likely went out and found part-time work during the 35-day shutdown. Transportation, leisure and hospitality, construction and health care led the job gains. While employment grew, hourly wages dipped lower than usual with a 0.1% increase, less than the predicted 0.3% estimate. The unemployment rate ticked up to 4.0 percent, the government said Friday.

The strong job market, though, is encouraging more people who weren't working to begin looking.

Just over 55,000 federal employees filed jobless claims during the shutdown, but those employees will have to pay back any benefits after receiving backpay from the government opening back up. Mortgage rates have fallen back after almost touching 5 percent previous year, but the number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes still declined in December. The economy added 304,000 jobs in January despite some economic concerns and the federal government shutdown. But the unemployment rate was 4 percent, which was a small hike from the 3.9 percent level in December. Government shutdown or not, this looked like a big report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for January's employment situation.

"As the jobs and employment data normalizes over the coming months, we are confident the nation's economy will continue to build on the strength seen in 2018 and the first report of 2019", said Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta. Some employers are still reluctant to offer higher pay, which has made it harder for them to find and keep workers, she said.

ADP reported private sector employment increased by 213,000 jobs in January.

NOGUCHI: You're right. The longer term trend is what matters.

What do the U.S. jobs numbers mean for Wall Street?

The string of job growth underscored the long economic expansion since the Great Recession.

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