National economy added 225,000 jobs in January, unemployment rate up slightly, to 3.6 percent.

Today’s employment report showed the economy beating expectations, adding 225,000 jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports,

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 225,000 in January, and the unemployment rate
was little changed at 3.6 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.
Notable job gains occurred in construction, in health care, and in transportation and

Bill McBride comments at Calculated Risk,

The headline jobs number was above expectations, and the previous two months were revised up slightly.  The headline unemployment rate increase to 3.6%; wage growth picked up to 3.1% year-over-year.  Overall this was a solid report, although there was probably some boost from the weather.

The jobs numbers follow yesterday’s BLS finding that worker productivity increased in the last quarter of 2019.

Nonfarm business sector labor productivity increased 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today, as output increased 2.5 percent and hours worked  increased 1.1 percent. (All quarterly percent changes in this release are seasonally adjusted annual rates.)  From the fourth quarter of 2018 to the fourth quarter of 2019, productivity increased 1.8 percent, reflecting a 2.7-percent increase in output and a 0.9-percent increase in hours worked.

Morningstar provides some context,

Productivity of nonfarm workers-measured as the output of goods and services per hour on the job-rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.4% during 2019’s fourth quarter compared to the prior three months. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected a 1.6% increase.

The rise came after a drop in the July to September period last year, when productivity fell 0.2%. Productivity grew 3.5% and 2.5% during 2019’s first and second quarters, respectively.

Productivity gains, which reflect increased worker efficiency, are seen as key for sustained economic growth. Productivity increased 1.8% in the fourth quarter last year compared to the same quarter in 2018, and was up 1.7% for all of 2019 from 2018. That was better than the 1.3% average annual rate of productivity growth between 2007 and 2019. Still, productivity increases have been tepid for much of the last decade compared to 2000 to 2007, when the average annual rate of growth was 2.7%.

In all, moving in the right direction.