US Economy
US added 257,000 jobs in January; Broad jobless rate at 11.3%
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Feb 6, 2015 - 2:43 PM

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President Barack Obama shows the Resolute Desk to a group of DREAMers (children of immigrants who were born in the US), following their Oval Office meeting in which they talked about how they have benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Feb. 4, 2015. The desk was made from the timbers of HMS Resolute, an abandoned British ship discovered by an American vessel and returned to the Queen of England as a token of friendship and goodwill. When the ship was retired, Queen Victoria commissioned the desk from William Evenden, Royal Naval Dockyard at Chatham, England, and presented it to President Rutherford Hayes in 1880.

US nonfarm payroll employment increased by 257,000 in January, and the unemployment rate, at 5.7%, was little changed. Job gains occurred in retail trade, construction, health care, financial activities, and manufacturing, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics today. The broad jobless rate including part-timers seeking full-time work and discouraged workers was at 11.3%.

The economy has added a robust 336,000 jobs to payrolls on average over the last three months.

The labour participation rate was at the lowest since 1978 when a large number of women were joining the workforce.

After incorporating revisions that increased total nonfarm employment by 147,000 for November and December combined (including the impact of the annual benchmark process), monthly job gains have averaged 336,000 over the past 3 months. In 2014, employment growth averaged 260,000 per month.

Retail trade added 46,000 jobs in January. Employment increased in sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores (+9,000); motor and vehicle parts dealers (+8,000); and nonstore retailers (+6,000).

Construction employment increased by 39,000 in January. Job gains occurred in residential and nonresidential building (+13,000 and +7,000, respectively). In 2014, employment growth in construction averaged 28,000 per month.

Health care added 38,000 jobs in January. Employment rose in offices of physicians (+13,000), hospitals (+10,000), and nursing and residential care facilities (+7,000). Job growth in health care averaged 26,000 per month in 2014.

Employment in financial activities increased by 26,000 in January, with about half the gain in insurance carriers and related activities (+14,000). Employment in the securities industry rose by 5,000. In 2014, financial activities added 159,000 jobs.

Manufacturing employment increased by 22,000 in January. Job gains occurred in motor vehicles and parts (+7,000) and wood products (+4,000). Over the past 12 months, employment in manufacturing has grown by 228,000.

Employment in professional and technical services rose by 33,000 in January. Within the industry, job gains occurred in architectural and engineering services (+8,000) and computer systems design (+8,000). In 2014, professional and technical services added an average of 25,000 jobs per month.

Food services and drinking places employment continued to trend up (+35,000) in January, in line with average job growth in 2014.

Average hourly earnings of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 12 cents to $24.75 in January, following a decline of 5 cents in December. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.2%. From December 2013 to December 2014, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased by 0.7%.

Turning to the survey of households, the unemployment rate was little changed at 5.7% in January. The jobless rate has shown no net change since October. There were 9.0 million unemployed persons in January, little different from the prior month. The number of unemployed persons who had been jobless for 27 weeks or more was essentially unchanged (2.8 million). These individuals accounted for 31.5% of the total unemployed.

The labour force participation rate increased by 0.2 percentage points to 62.9% in January, following a decline of the same magnitude in the prior month. The employment-population ratio was little changed at 59.3% in January. Among the employed, the number of persons working part time for economic reasons was 6.8 million, about unchanged over the month. These individuals would have preferred full-time employment, but had their hours cut or were unable to find full- time work.

Following the usual practice, there were routine annual adjustments to the data from the two labour surveys. The establishment survey data released today reflect the incorporation of annual benchmark revisions. Each year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics re-anchor its sample-based survey estimates to full universe counts of employment, primarily derived from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, which enumerates jobs covered by the unemployment insurance tax system.

Household survey data for January reflect updated population estimates from the US Census Bureau. This year, the impact of the new controls on the unemployment rate and other ratios is negligible.

In summary, nonfarm payroll employment increased by 257,000 in January, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 5.7%.


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