Healthcare job growth dips in January

03 February, 2019, 23:38 | Author: Mary Valdez
  • US employers added 304,000 jobs in January, soaring past expectations

How did the shutdown change the jobs report?

Before the jobs report had been announced, economists polled by MarketWatch had predicted that the country would add around 172,000 jobs.

The healthy gain the government reported Friday illustrated the job market's durability almost a decade into the economic expansion.

"It's great way to celebrate 100 consecutive months of jobs gains, which is a record".

The bureau attributes the uptick in unemployment, which rose by 0.1 percentage point, to the partial government shutdown since furloughed federal employees were identified as temporarily laid off.

Some of the unexpectedly large jump in hiring appeared to have been pulled forward from December, which was revised down from 312,000 jobs to 222,000. Still, hiring has accelerated since last summer, a development that has surprised economists because hiring typically slows when unemployment is so low.

The ongoing demand for workers is leading some businesses to offer higher pay to attract and keep staff.

The unemployment rate climbed to 4 percent from 3.9 percent, while the labor force participation rate rose slightly to 63.2 percent.

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The unemployment rate for veterans of all generations jumped from 3.2 to 3.7 percent. The number of unemployed people also ticked up to 6.5 million, again with the BLS indicating that the shutdown was responsible.

The hundreds of thousands of government workers who were furloughed or working without pay did not have a negative effect on the job market. But the longest shutdown in history, which ended a week ago, pushed up the unemployment rate to a seven-month high of 4.0 percent. Those factors have led many economists to forecast slower growth this year compared with 2018. The continued strong job growth in construction is perplexing given the sector's reported chronic labor shortage, but provides a good sign for the housing sector.

An analyst at the USA investment bank Charles Schwab, Kully Samra, stated: "A tight labour market and healthy wage growth support economic growth, and today's data should buoy consumer spending and could boost the stock market".

Yet even employers whose revenue dropped likely held onto their workers during January. The government itself also spent less. Tourists cut back on visits to national parks, for example, thereby hurting nearby restaurants and hotels. As a result, these workers were included in the survey of employers from which the payrolls number is calculated.

The reports that have been released have been mixed. But consumer confidence fell in January for a third straight month.

North said the rate is almost a ideal number, "not too hot" so as to spark fears of inflation, but "not too cold" to raise concerns about wage stagnation. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by a total of 85 cents, or about 3.2 percent. The rate hit a 49-year low of 3.7 percent in September and remained unchanged in October and November.

Washington's trade war with Beijing is the biggest headwind to the economy, which will also have to deal with diminishing fiscal stimulus and weakening growth in China and Europe, as well as the risk of a disorderly departure by Britain from the European Union.

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