Unemployment Rate Unchanged at 3.7% for Third Month
The first month of the new year saw robust jobs creation, with the addition of 353,000 new jobs reported in January. While a recent upward adjustment added more than 100,000 hires to last month’s report, the January figures still exceed December activity. With a revised gain of 333,000 jobs in December, employment increased by an average of 255,000 per month in 2023.
January saw a significant pickup in hiring in professional and business services, which had slowed somewhat in recent months. Solid gains were also recorded in healthcare, retail trade, and social assistance, with declines in mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction.
For the third month in a row, the unemployment rate remains at 3.7%.
Average monthly wages rose by 0.6% in January, pushing a gain of 4.5% in average hourly earnings for the past 12-month period.
The average work week was again shortened in the past month, moving to 34.1 hours in January.
Temporary Job Trends
The temp sector showed a gain of 3,900 jobs in January.
What Does It All Mean?
The January jobs report reflects a bright beginning for 2024. As has often been the case in the past year, the latest jobs report exceeded expectations. It offered greater hiring activity than predicted, a steady unemployment rate, and strong compensation trends.
Clearly, employers are hiring. This is despite high interest rates that tend to stymie investment and lots of chatter about planned layoffs and retrenchments in the pursuit of greater efficiencies. Some economists continue to warn of the possibility of a coming recession (albeit a milder one than initially predicted). The currently robust labor market, however, offers a more positive outlook and a sense of optimism for the coming year.
This may be a time of contradictions, but from an employer’s perspective, it is always wise to invest in talent to ensure a bright future.
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), CNBC, Staffing Industry Analysts, FOX Business, The Street, CNN, The New York Times