Official government statistics confirm strong employment growth in January

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its January employment report today. The numbers are good:

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 304,000 in January, and the unemployment rate edged up to 4.0 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labpr Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in several industries, including leisure and hospitality, construction, health care, and transportation and warehousing.

Both the unemployment rate, at 4.0 percent, and the number of unemployed persons,
at 6.5 million, edged up in January. The impact of the partial federal government
shutdown contributed to the uptick in these measures. Among the unemployed, the
number who reported being on temporary layoff increased by 175,000. This figure
includes furloughed federal employees who were classified as unemployed on
temporary layoff under the definitions used in the household survey.

Yesterday, we wrote about the positive employment reports from ADP and NFIB.

The New York Times reports,

January’s growth means that American employers have added jobs for 100 consecutive months, extending a record run. The unemployment rate is near a multidecade low, and wages — long a weak point — are rising….

“This jobs report is showing no evidence of an economy slowing, certainly not falling into recession,” said Michelle Meyer, chief United States economist for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “It’s still a tight labor market. Employers are still actively looking for jobs, and with wages ticking up, it looks like workers are getting some more bargaining power.”

From the Wall Street Journal:

Average hourly wages for private-sector workers grew 3.2% from a year earlier. Wages are growing at the best rate since the recession ended in 2009 in recent months.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected 170,000 new jobs in January and a 3.9% unemployment rate.

As we wrote yesterday, expansions do not last forever. The USA Today lead highlights some of the policy uncertainty affecting our interpretation of these data.

Hiring began 2019 on a strong note as employers added 304,000 jobs in January, marking a 100th straight month of payroll growth and defying the 35-day government shutdown, the U.S. trade war with China and a slowing global economy. 

Trade wars. A slowing global economy. Showdowns and shutdowns in D.C. And an expansion entering its 101st month. Plenty of reason to be concerned.

Bank the good times in anticipation of the inevitable slowdowns.  It’s a time for fiscal discipline and caution.