Economy adds 227,000 jobs in January

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The U.S. economy added 227,000 jobs in January — the most in four months and more than economists expected — and the nation’s unemployment rate edged up to 4.8 percent, the Labor Department reported today.

The government said job gains occurred in retail trade, construction and financial activities.

Economists that Reuters polled had predicted that payrolls would rise by 175,000 last month. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey was for a gain of 180,000 jobs.

The government said wage growth was weaker than in December. In January, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 3 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $26, after a 6 cent increase, or 0.2 percent, in December.

During the past year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.5 percent, the government said. In January, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 4 cents, to $21.84.

“There’s more slack in the labor market than the unemployment rate implies, but we’re continuing to make progress in absorbing that slack,” Russell Price, senior economist at Ameriprise Financial Inc. in Detroit, told Bloomberg. “As that happens, wage and salary growth should gain additional traction.”

The government revised the job totals for the two previous months to show a net decrease of 39,000 from the initial reports. The November total was revised downward from 204,000 to 164,000, and the December total was revised upward from 156,000 to 157,000.

In January the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 1.9 million and accounted for 24.4 percent of the unemployed, the government said. During the past year the number of long-term unemployed has declined by 244,000.

The number of people employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed in January, at 5.8 million, the government said. Those people, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut they were unable to find full-time jobs.

In January 1.8 million people were marginally attached to the labor force, down by 337,000 from a year earlier, the government said. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Those people were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime during the prior 12 months.

The government said they were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work during the four weeks that preceded the survey.

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