The unemployment rate remained stuck at 4.1 percent for the fourth straight month, but more relevant to workers, wages increased solidly for the second month, improving by 9 cents an hour after an 11-cent increase in December, and 75 cents for the past 12 months, an improvement of 2.9 percent. "However, given our specialization in emerging cities our task has become very challenging with unemployment rates being so low and the increased retirements of the baby boomers". Over the year, construction employment has increased by 226,000.
The figures point to an economy on strong footing even in its ninth year of expansion, fueled by global economic growth and healthy consumer spending at home. "We are in a candidate driven market and demand for highly skilled professionals from middle management to the C-suite is robust to say the least". "It solidifies expectations that the Fed will hike in March". That much is still true today - a year into Trump's presidency. Average hourly earnings rose 0.3% month-on-month. The sector lost 2,100 jobs in January after it lost 3,600 jobs in December. The auto retailer AutoNation said this week that it was no longer refusing to hire workers who test positive for marijuana use - a sign of changing legal and societal norms, but also an indication that companies are rethinking hiring practices in a tight labor market.
Most analysts are expecting the pace of job growth to slow this year but to remain well above the 80,000-to-100,000 range needed to absorb new entrants to the labor market and keep the unemployment rate from rising. While determining the exact impact may be hard, economists expect these developments will boost worker pay in 2018. It raised borrowing costs 3X in Y 2017. Friday's wage data will certainly add to a thesis that inflation is coming down the pike after having come in below the Fed's 2% target for years.
BLS revised the job creation numbers over the last two months, the net effect of which was to lower the number by 24,000.
For all of 2017, the picture was more positive, with 2.17 million created in Trump's first year as president, revised from a previous estimate of 2.06 million; in 2016, the last full year under President Barack Obama, the total was 2.34 million jobs. That's in line with the resurgence in factory activity and rebound in housing. Retailers hired 15,400 people. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 3 cents to $22.34 in January.
Unemployment rates rose last month for men, Hispanics, blacks and Asians but fell for women, whites and workers lacking a high-school diploma.
Mooyah Burgers, Fries and Shakes, a 100-restaurant chain based in Texas, recently started a program to help franchisees expand their marketing efforts by hiring at-home parents and others who had not been in the labor force.
The Wall Street Journal reports, "A broader measure of unemployment and underemployment, which includes people working part-time jobs because they can't find full-time employment, ticked up to 8.2% in January".
Bloomberg's Chris Middleton and Sophie Caronello contributed.