The New Year Started Strong with Job Growth of 225,000

Unemployment Ticks Up Slightly

JOB GROWTH: January ushered in 225,000 new jobs, well above the 2019 monthly average of 175,000. Although there was little noteworthy month-over-month momentum in any specific employment metric, there was slight upward movement in both the labor force participation rate and the employment-population ratio.

TOP INDUSTRIES: After averaging only 12,000 jobs per month during 2019, construction employment surged in January with 44,000 new jobs. Solid gains were also recorded in healthcare and transportation and warehousing (think holiday returns). Both the business and professional services and leisure and hospitality sectors were also strong.

UNEMPLOYMENT: January brought a slight change in the unemployment rate, which ticked up to 3.6%.

WAGES: Wage growth continued to move in the right direction in January, with average hourly earnings over the past 12 months reaching 3.1%.

WORK WEEK: The work week was again unchanged, with average hours steady at 34.3.

TEMPORARY JOB TRENDS: The temporary help sector experienced a loss of 1,500 jobs in January, which was the smallest year-over-year monthly loss since January 2019.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? The economy continues to expand, with strong job demand across multiple sectors, although trends are moving higher in the services arena than in manufacturing. New this month: benchmark revisions of data reported in the past indicate fewer jobs were created from 2018 to 2019, which is in line with economists’ predictions that job growth is slowing, after a decade-long expansion. Despite this side note, demand for talent remains strong. While employers continue to battle each other for job candidates, the focus may be shifting to greater emphasis on retention efforts to reduce the need to recruit new talent. That’s good news for the workforce but does not reduce pressure on employers to do more to raise wages.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Steinberg Employment Research, CNBC, FOX News, Staffing Industry Analysts, NBC News, Forbes, MSNBC, MarketWatch, PBS News