Friday, February 3, 2023

U.S. Added 517,000 Jobs as Hiring Accelerated in January

Well, that recession everyone's been predicting hasn't materialized. This economy is sizzling, *despite* the loathed Biden administration's efforts to throttle it.

At the Wall Street Journal, "U.S. added 517,000 jobs in January, snapping five-month string of slowing employment growth":

The U.S. labor market accelerated at the start of the year as broad-based hiring added a robust 517,000 jobs and pushed the unemployment rate to a 53-year low.

January’s payroll gains were the largest since July 2022 and snapped a string of five straight months of slowing employment growth, the Labor Department said Friday. The unemployment rate was 3.4% last month, its lowest level since May 1969.

Wage growth continued to soften last month, despite the strong job gains. Average hourly earnings grew 4.4% in January from a year earlier, down from a revised 4.8% in December. Annual revisions to employment and pay data suggest that wage growth has been cooling—but at a slower pace than previously thought.

The average workweek rose to 34.7 hours, the highest since March 2022.

“This is just incredibly, surprisingly strong,” said Kathy Bostjancic, chief economist at Nationwide. “Not only are you hiring more workers but the workers you have overall are working more hours. It doesn’t really get stronger than that.”

The hiring gain was well above economists’ expectations. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected 187,000 new jobs last month.

The report likely keeps the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates by another quarter-percentage point at its meeting next month and to signal another increase is likely after that. The central bank raised its benchmark rate by a quarter point this week to a range between 4.5% and 4.75%.

The Fed is trying to keep the economy growing at a slower-than-average pace to weaken demand and cool inflation. But the report Friday suggested the labor market had been even more resilient in recent months than recently reported, with the growth in average hour earnings and payrolls revised higher at the end of last year.

Stocks fell and bond yields climbed following the jobs report.

Payrolls grew in a range of sectors, including leisure and hospitality, professional and business services and healthcare. The hiring surge contrasted against high-profile corporate layoff announcements, particularly by tech companies that have cut back amid economic uncertainty...