U.S. Job Market Achieves Slow, but Positive Growth in January 2016 Economic and seasonal factors inspire mixed results to begin the New Year
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ first monthly employment situation report of 2016 delivered both underwhelming and encouraging news for the U.S. job market. Nonfarm employment increased by 151,000 positions in January. While this total fell short of pre-release projections, which estimated expansion closer to 190,000, it represents the 71st consecutive month of positive job growth.
Based on expert forecasts, January’s job growth drop-off should not come as a surprise.In the last three months of 2015, the U.S. job market grew by a monthly average of 231,000 positions, setting a pace that would be unrealistic to continue at the start of the New Year. Beyond a shakier-than-usual economy, several factors that may have inflated the jobs total in late 2015 worked against it in January. Winter weather slowed growth in the construction industry by nearly 30,000 positions following a milder-than-normal December. Additionally, the end of the holidays signaled significant month-to-month declines for industries reliant on seasonal workers, such as couriers and messengers (a 14,000 position loss) and postal workers (a 6,000 position loss).
Despite the decline in job growth volume, the latest employment report did offer some encouraging signs for the U.S. labor market. January’s 4.9 percent unemployment rate marks the first month below 5 percent since February 2008. The average hourly earnings for U.S. employees also rose 12 cents to $25.39, an improvement that Allianz chief economist Mohamed El-Erian says “suggests the impressive job creation of the last few years may finally be translating into higher wage growth.”
Growth within the temporary services sector also declined by 25,200 positions during the last month, bringing the job creation total to 2,919,000. The market share for temporary help services (as it relates to all jobs) fell slightly to 2.04 percent as a result. (Source: Bruce Steinberg, www.brucesteinberg.net)