United States Economy Gains 225,000 Jobs in January
This morning the first jobs report for 2020 was released — and it looks like the year is off to a running start. As CNN Business reports, the United States economy added an impressive 225,000 jobs during the month of January. That easily tops the 160,000 jobs expected by economists surveyed by the site. It also well outpaces the monthly average of 175,000 jobs seen throughout 2019. For the past three months, the average monthly job gain now sits at 211,000.
Despite the big gains, the unemployment rate ticked up one-tenth of a percent to 3.6%. This suggests that more Americans re-entered the workforce in search of employment. In fact the labor force participation rate jumped to its highest level since 2013, reaching 63.4%. What’s more, 61.2% of individuals over the age of 16 years and older are now employed — another high not seen since 2008. Addressing these aspects of the report, TD Ameritrade chief market strategist JJ Kinahan told CNN, “It’s great to see that people have hope and want to get back out there,” adding that the latest report was a “blow-out.”
As for wages, worker pay saw a 3.1% year over year increase, besting estimates that pegged it at 3%. The average hourly wage now sits at $28.44. Meanwhile the average number of hours worked per week stayed still at 34.3 hours — something that could pose an issue. As ZipRecruiter labor economist Julia Pollak explained to CNBC, “Weekly hours worked remain worryingly low. That is a problem because many workers are struggling to find jobs that will schedule them to work enough hours so they can make ends meet. It could also be a sign that employers are concerned about the possibility that demand for goods and services might weaken in the coming months.”
Despite that potential negative, it seems analysts are celebrating the report on the whole. For example CUNA Mutual Group chief economist Steve Rick told MarketWatch, “Another month of knockout jobs numbers is, at this point, astounding. Despite where we’re at in the economic cycle, and the number of looming uncertain factors, this just goes to show that the labor market is more than buoyant.” Nick Bunker, economic research director at Indeed Hiring Lab, echoed some of those sentiments while noting the bittersweet, saying, “This expansion has continuously disappointed on wage and pay gains, but its ability to pull more and more workers into the labor force is astounding.”
Of course, on the heels President Trump’s controversial State of the Union address and his impeachment acquittal, this latest jobs report could be good news for the President’s reelection bid. On that front, following a tumultuous Iowa caucus, the New Hampshire primary this coming week might provide a better picture of who Trump will be facing off against in November. In the meantime, observers will surely be paying extra close attention to these monthly reports as the longest period of economic expansion in American history continues.