The monthly Employment Situation Summary, released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, showed the addition of 151,000 jobs to public and private, non-farm payrolls, and an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent, the lowest in eight years. Prior to the release, economists were predicting the addition of 190,000 jobs. In a mixed report, however, the real good news is wage growth.
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Average hourly earnings increased 12 cents an hour last month, to $25.39. The PayScale Index, which measures the change in pay for employed U.S. workers, forecasts a 1.4 percent year-over-year increase for the first quarter of 2016.
“Wage growth has shown momentum recently. Average hourly earnings increased 2.5% in January compared to a year ago,” writes Patrick Gillespie at CNN Money. “…Until recently, wage growth has been the one factor missing from America’s recovery from the recession. As the unemployment rate remains low, many economists expect Americans to see paychecks go up.”
The number of unemployed workers declined by 1.1 million and 0.8 percent over the past 12 months. Despite the lower unemployment rate for January, however, the number of unemployed workers (7.8 million) changed little last month. In terms of other measures of labor underutilization, the number of long-term unemployed was unchanged at 2.1 million, and has remained largely unchanged since June, while the number of workers employed part-time for economic reasons was little changed last month at 6 million, but down by 796,000 for the past 12 months. The number of workers marginally attached to the labor force, including discouraged workers, was essentially the same as a year earlier.
Several industries added jobs last month, including retail trade (+58,000 jobs), food services and drinking places (+47,000 jobs), healthcare (+37,000 jobs), financial activities (+18,000 jobs), and professional and business services (+9,000 jobs). Manufacturing had its biggest increase (+29,000) in over a year.
Due to layoffs, private educational services (-39,000 jobs) shed jobs last month, while transportation and warehousing (-20,000 jobs) and mining (-7,000 jobs) also declined. The mining industry as a whole has lost 146,000 jobs since its peak in September 2014.
Other industries, including wholesale trade, construction, and government, were essentially unchanged for January.
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