Economy Adds 300,000 Jobs in January Despite Shutdown, Defying Expectations

An employment sign hangs from a wooden fence on the property of a McDonald's restaurant Thursday Jan. 3 2019 in Atlantic Highlands N.J

December was revised down from the originally reported 312,000 to 222,000. These figures continue the job growth of the December 2018 jobs report.

January's numbers outpaced economists' predictions of 170,000 jobs added, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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

"In headline terms it is another excellent payrolls report with strong job growth, decent wage gains and even some upbeat revisions to the last couple months".

An analyst at the United States 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".

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

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.

Federal workers furloughed during the shutdown were counted as employed because the Labor Department says they worked or received pay for the period surveyed. Employment in the leisure and hospitality industry added 74,000 jobs, while construction added 52,000 positions in January. That left the annual increase in wages at 3.2 percent. The unemployment rate ticked up to 4.0 percent, the government said Friday. 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.

Numerous remaining furloughed federal employees were classified as "employed but absent from work", so those employees were not counted in the unemployment rate. Last week's applications for unemployment benefits came in at 253,000, above from the 49-year low hit earlier in the month but still low by historical standards.

USA 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. 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.

The string of job growth underscores the long economic expansion since the Great Recession. But in the other survey, which measures the jobless rate, a lot of these same workers were counted as unemployed.

Friday's solid jobs report provided a dose of reassurance that the economy remains mostly healthy and likely to shake off any effects of the shutdown. Notable gains occurred in the retail sector (21,000), transportation and warehousing (27,000), and education and health services (55,000).

"I am right now planning our first family vacation in three years", she said. And this latest data doesn't actually change the monthly average very much.

The December jobs report was a series of numbers that range from fantastic to fantastical.

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