2/1/2019 12:40:00 PM Robust job gains show the economy's durability
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers shrugged off last month’s partial shutdown of the government and engaged in a burst of hiring in January, adding 304,000 jobs, the most in nearly a year.
The healthy gain the government reported toay illustrated the job market’s resilience nearly a decade into the economic expansion. The U.S. has now added jobs for 100 straight months, the longest such period on record.
The unemployment rate did rise in January to 4 percent from 3.9 percent, the Labor Department said, but mostly for a technical reason: The number of people counted as temporarily unemployed jumped 175,000, with most of that increase consisting of federal workers and contractors affected by the shutdown.
The governmentt oday also sharply revised down its estimates of job growth in November and December. Still, hiring has accelerated since last summer, a development that has surprised economists because hiring typically slows when unemployment is so low.
“The overwhelming conclusion from today’s numbers is that the U.S. labor market remained incredibly strong at the start of 2019,” said Leslie Preston, senior economist at TD Economics.
Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, said that many federal workers and contractors likely went out and found part-time work during the 35-day shutdown. The ability of many of them to do so is itself a sign of the job market’s strength, Swonk said.
Last month’s healthy job gain will assuage some concerns that had arisen about the U.S. economy. Global growth is weakening, the Trump administration is engaged in a trade war with China and higher mortgage rates have slowed home sales. Those factors have led many economists to forecast slower growth this year compared with 2018.
Yet strong hiring should boost household incomes, fueling more consumer spending, which would help drive economic growth.
Most sectors of the economy reported solid hiring gains in January. Education and health care added 55,000 jobs, retailers nearly 21,000 and professional and business services, which includes such higher-paying positions as engineers and architects, 30,000.