Economy

United States job growth surges in January despite government shutdown

United States job growth surges in January despite government shutdown

The U.S. labor market addest a robust 304,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in January, bucking concerns that a volatile market and the 35-day partial government shutdown would significantly affect job growth.

Gains occurred in a number of sectors: Leisure and hospitality added 74,000 jobs, construction 52,000, health care 42,000, retail almost 21,000 and manufacturing 13,000. The Federal Reserve said this week that it would hold off on interest rate hikes for at least the next several months, giving Wall Street the best of both worlds: Good economic news, and less fear that it will lead to the Fed tightening the money supply.

Employers added 304,000 jobs last month - topping analysts' expectations and the 223,000 average monthly gain in 2018.

Another factor contributing to unemployment is the labor force participation rate, which has grown by half a percent since September and hit 63.2 percent in January-the highest in more than five years. Restaurants have added more than 80,000 jobs over the past two months-double the rate of hiring from the previous 10 months.

The main reason for the temporary economic loss this quarter is that the thousands of government workers who missed two paychecks slowed their spending.

Last month's healthy job gain will assuage some concerns that had arisen about the US economy.

The economy, however, added 70,000 fewer jobs than previously reported in November and December.

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Restaurants added almost 37,000 jobs in January, according to newly released federal data, as the industry shrugs off labor-cost fears to continue its long-term expansion.

However, the Labor Department said earlier it would consider the 800,000 federal workers affected by the shutdown fully employed. Now that the shutdown has ended, these people will go back to being counted as having just one job beginning in February.

But in a separate survey of households that's used to calculate the unemployment rate, some of these people were counted as temporarily jobless. The federal government itself also spent less.

Wall Street breathed a sigh of relief this month as policymakers sent strong signals they meant to pause, meaning investors could be in for an unwelcome surprise. By contrast, the overall economy has increased the number of jobs by 1.9%-and 0.2% last month.

MARTIN: So January - clearly, a big month for hiring. January marks the 100th straight month of job growth.

"I am right now planning our first family vacation in three years", she said.

Yet with unemployment so low and many companies struggling to fill jobs, layoffs might not have been widespread.