U.S. Employers Add 304,000 Jobs in January; Unemployment at 4%

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 304,000 in January, and the unemployment rate edged up to 4.0 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

The United States Department of Labor this morning released its monthly estimate of hiring, unemployment, and wages for January. The report provides a crucial snapshot of the American economy.

Despite the partial federal government shutdown, a slowing global economy, and trade tensions with China, employers added 304,000 jobs in January, marking a 100th straight month of payroll growth. The unemployment rate rose to 4.0% and average hourly wages for private-sector workers grew 3.2% from a year earlier.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Household Survey Data

Both the unemployment rate, at 4.0 percent, and the number of unemployed persons,
at 6.5 million, edged up in January. The impact of the partial federal government
shutdown contributed to the uptick in these measures. Among the unemployed, the
number who reported being on temporary layoff increased by 175,000. This figure
includes furloughed federal employees who were classified as unemployed on
temporary layoff under the definitions used in the household survey. (See tables
A-1 and A-11. For information about annual population adjustments to the household
survey estimates, see the note at the end of this release and tables B and C. For
more information on the classification of workers affected by the partial federal
government shutdown, see the box note at the end of this news release.)

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 304,000 in January, compared with
an average monthly gain of 223,000 in 2018. In January, employment grew in several
industries, including leisure and hospitality, construction, health care, and
transportation and warehousing. There were no discernible impacts of the partial
federal government shutdown on the estimates of employment, hours, and earnings
from the establishment survey.

Partial Federal Government Shutdown

Some federal government agencies were shut down or operating at reduced
staffing levels during a lapse in appropriations from December 22, 2018,
through January 25, 2019. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) was
funded during the shutdown period and was operating as usual. Data
collection for the household and establishment surveys occurred as
scheduled.

In the household survey, individuals are classified as employed,
unemployed, or not in the labor force based on their answers to a series
of questions about their activities during the survey reference week.
Workers who indicated that they were not working during the entire
survey reference week and expected to be recalled to their jobs should
be classified as unemployed on temporary layoff. In January 2019, there
was an increase in the number of federal workers who were classified as
unemployed on temporary layoff. However, there also was an increase in
the number of federal workers who were classified as employed but absent
from work. BLS analysis of the underlying data indicates that this group
included federal workers affected by the shutdown who also should have
been classified as unemployed on temporary layoff. Such a
misclassification is an example of nonsampling error and can occur when
respondents misunderstand questions or interviewers record answers
incorrectly. If the federal workers who were recorded as employed but
absent from work had been classified as unemployed on temporary layoff,
the overall unemployment rate would have been slightly higher than
reported. However, according to usual practice, the data from the
household survey are accepted as recorded. To maintain data integrity,
no ad hoc actions are taken to reassign survey responses.

In the establishment survey, businesses and government agencies report the
number of people on payrolls during the pay period that includes the 12th
of the month. Individuals who work or receive pay for any part of the pay
period are defined as employed. Federal employees on furlough during the
partial federal government shutdown were considered employed in the
establishment survey because they worked or received pay (or will receive
pay) for the pay period that included the 12th of the month. Other workers
(including federal contractors) who did not work or receive pay during the
partial federal government shutdown were not counted among the employed.

Read the full report for more information.

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