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Economy & Business

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

A steel worker returns to work at U.S. Steel Granite City Works in Granite City, Ill. (Lawrence Bryant/Reuters)

The U.S. economy added 304,000 jobs in January, defying the expectations of economists who believed the 35-day government shutdown that concluded Friday would likely hurt economic growth.

The numbers released Friday by the Department of Labor represent the largest monthly jobs increase in nearly a year and continue a long running trend of 100 consecutive months of growth.

Unemployment rose slightly from 3.9 to 4 percent due to the effects of the shutdown as some 175,000 federal workers were temporarily unemployed.

The strong showing represents nearly a doubling of the 165,000 jobs economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected would be added to in January.

A mid-month warm spell appears to have helped spur growth in the construction and leisure and hospitality sectors. Leisure and hospitality led, adding 74,000 jobs while construction added 52,000.

Despite the Trump administration’s ongoing trade war with China, the manufacturing sector also added 13,000 jobs.

Spurred by an increasingly tight labor market, average wages continue to rise, gaining 3 cents per hour. Wages have risen by 3.2 percent since this time last year.

Despite increasingly dower predictions from economists concerned that the ten years of uninterrupted growth must soon come to an end, macroeconomic indicators remain solid.

“This jobs report is showing no evidence of an economy slowing, certainly not falling into recession,” Michelle Meyer, chief United States economist for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, told the New York Times. “It’s still a tight labor market. Employers are still actively looking for jobs, and with wages ticking up, it looks like workers are getting some more bargaining power.”

 

 

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