Job Gains Strengthen as Wage Growth Remains Above Three Percent

February 01, 2019

Payroll jobs increased by 305,000 in January and average weekly earnings have increased 3.5 percent from a year ago as employers laid off fewer workers than usual after the holiday season and several industries saw earnings growth well above the national rate.

The unemployment rate rose to 4.0 percent, but annual population/technical adjustments to the household survey may be partly responsible for the increase.

Some cracks in the jobs picture:  The number of people employed part-time for economic reasons increased in January and are up 779,000 since August 2018.

Weekly earnings growth varies by industry:  Information (7.6%), utilities (6.0%), construction (4.9%), and finance (4.0%) all have strong above-average earnings growth.

Job gains were focused in six industries accounting for almost 64 percent of all job growth:

  • Construction (+52,000);
  • Health care (+41,600);
  • Bars and restaurants (+36,600);
  • Transportation and warehousing (+26,600);
  • Retail trade (+20,800); and
  • Professional and technical services (+15,400).

Looking ahead:  Trade and tariff issues and slower global economic growth will continue to be headwinds for the foreseeable future.