BLS Releases January 2019 Employment Situation (Feb. 2019)
Nonfarm employers posted strong employment growth, adding 304,000 jobs; the unemployment rate edged upward to 4.0 percent; and hourly wages posted continued growth in January. The revision to the job growth reported for the prior two months was mixed, with November revised up by 20,000 jobs and December revised down by 90,000 jobs. The three-month average was 241,000 jobs, more than the 223,000 average monthly rate for calendar year 2018.
Job gains occurred across a wide range of sectors in January including leisure and hospitality, construction, health care, and transportation and warehousing. Leisure and hospitality added 74,000 jobs, largely among food service and drinking places and amusement, gambling, and recreation. Construction added 52,000 jobs, health care added 42,000, transportation and warehousing added 27,000 jobs, and retail trade added 21,000 jobs in January. Professional and business services, with 30,000 jobs added in January, has added 546,000 jobs over the last 12 months. Health care added 368,000 year-over-year. Both continued to be the biggest drivers of job growth; with solid gains over the last 12 months also coming from construction (338,000) and manufacturing (261,000).
Despite strong nonfarm jobs growth, the unemployment rate increased to 4.0 percent in January, from 3.9 percent in December, as the strong labor market conditions pulled more people into the labor market. During the month, the labor force participation rate rose by 0.1 percentage points. The employment rate—or employment-to-population ratio (EPOP or the percentage of adults with jobs) edged up as well in January to 60.7, a high for the recovery.
The tighter labor market is showing some dividends in wage growth. The average hourly wage is up 3.2 percent over the last year; over the last three months (November, December, and January), the annualized rate was up 3.3 percent. With the core rate of inflation at 2.2 percent, increased hourly wages translate to modest real wage gains.
In sum, this is mostly a positive jobs report. The pace of job growth that began seven years ago is continuing, with the economy adding a total of 2.7 million jobs during 2018. This growth rate is pulling more workers into the labor market, which is now tight enough to produce real wage gains.
The full BLS press release on the January 2019 employment situation can be accessed in the link below:
The next employment situation report for February 2019 will be released on Friday, March 8, 2019.