Feb 01, 2019

Putting U.S. Employment Numbers in Context – January 2019

Post by Freedom Partners

This morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the economy gained 304,000 jobs in January 2019, nearly doubling some economists expectations and the largest gain since February 2018, while the U.S. unemployment rate rose to 4 percent largely due to a government shutdown which saw roughly 175,000 federal workers become classified as temporarily unemployed. Overall, the economy has added jobs for 100 consecutive months – the longest on record – and year-over-year wages increased by 3.2 percent, one of the largest gains over the last decade.

With the labor market at its strongest in decades, today’s report continues to highlight the benefits of enacting pro-growth policies like tax reform and continued regulatory relief. Over the past 25 months, average hourly earnings for all private sector employees rose over 6 percent, signaling a strong turnaround for workers after years of stagnant wage growth. Additionally, the economy gained nearly 4.9 million jobs, at an average rate of 203,292 jobs per month, while the unemployment rate dropped 0.7 percentage points. The largest private sector job gains were seen in education and health services, as well as professional and business services.

However, tariffs on goods imported into the U.S. threaten to undermine continued job growth and the overall labor market – they are already costing businesses and consumers more. One estimate showed that nearly 36 million U.S. jobs were supported by trade in 2016. Tariffs benefit only a few politically connected industries at the expense of most consumers and businesses. Lowering trade barriers will improve lives by growing the economy, increasing pay checks, and creating new and better jobs.

Below is a deeper look at the numbers from today’s report and what they say about the state of the U.S. labor market.