January saw gains in U.S. employment as more people joined the labor market, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.
Employers added 225,000 jobs, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor released Friday (Feb. 7). The unemployment rate went from 3.5 percent in December to 3.6 percent in January as more Americans are job hunting.
Wages increased 3.1 percent from a year before, which is higher than a rise of 3 percent from December, year-over-year.
“The labor market and the consumer are the strength of the economy, and they’re in good shape,” said Eric Winograd, senior economist at AllianceBernstein.
Softer winter weather helped industries like transportation and construction to gain, but there was growth in a number of sectors, which upped payroll growth to an average of 211,000 jobs over the last three months. The monthly average for 2019 was 175,000 jobs.
One company called American Sale, which sells large recreational items like hot tubs, said it is going to add 20 workers to its 200-person roster. President Robert Jones said when there’s a low unemployment rate, more people buy things.
“When you have more demand, you have more to do, so you just need more people,” Jones said.
Companies also have more of a labor pool to select from, as the number of people looking for work between the ages of 25 and 54 went up to 83.1 percent in January, from 82.9 percent in December, which is the highest rate since 2008.
Average hourly workers saw their earnings grow 3.1 percent from a year before, and the rates grew at a yearly pace of 3 percent. Inflation has also been manageable.
There have been some troubling issues as well, as Boeing stopped making its 737 MAX airplane, which is expected to stymie first-quarter growth. Also, the coronavirus outbreak could hurt manufacturing around the world. The virus originated in China and has halted production in many factories due to quarantines.