January Jobs Report Shatters Expectations, 304,000 Jobs Created

That was less than the blockbuster 312,000 first reported, and it followed the revised 176,000 jobs added in November.

US employers hired the most workers in 11 months in January, indicating the labor market remains strong despite fears of an economic slowdown.

The numbers exclude farm work, which is seasonal and often volatile.

January marked the 100th straight month of jobs growth, by far the longest on record.

The Employment Situation, or "jobs report" in common parlance, is released on the third Friday after the 12 of the previous month.

The partial government shutdown could have affected numbers, however.

The strong job market is also encouraging more people who weren't working to begin looking.

Job gains in January were led by the leisure and hospitality sector, which has added 410,000 jobs over the past year.

North said the rate is almost a flawless number, "not too hot" so as to spark fears of inflation, but "not too cold" to raise concerns about wage stagnation. The unemployment rate climbed slightly from 3.9 percent to 4.0 percent.

The labor force participation rate continued to defy expectations, rising for the second consecutive month to 63.2% from 63.1%.

"This jobs report is showing no evidence of an economy slowing, certainly not falling into recession", Michelle Meyer, chief United States economist for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, told the New York Times.

Just over 55,000 federal employees filed jobless claims during the shutdown, but those employees will have to pay back any benefits after receiving backpay from the government opening back up. The rate hit a 49-year low of 3.7 percent in September and remained unchanged in October and November.

The unemployment rate has risen to 4 percent from 3.9 percent in December. And that one counted furloughed workers as employed, even if they were sitting at home and not collecting a paycheck. "The government shutdown is confusing because you have all these jobs being created, but the unemployment rate going higher because you have these people being included in number one and not the other".

US economic growth is slowing from its rapid 2018 pace, but the continued robust gains in employment may cause pause to commentators that have been calling for recession.

Retail jobs, however, have stayed essentially flat over the past year as e-commerce - usually represented in the transportation and warehousing category - has taken over an increasing share of employment in the sector.

"This is the sweet spot for investors right now", Long said. And this latest data doesn't actually change the monthly average very much. Stocks on Wall Street rose, while U.S. Treasury prices fell.

  • Eleanor Harrison