Economy

USA job gains largest in 11 months; unemployment rate rises

USA job gains largest in 11 months; unemployment rate rises”

USA employers shrugged off last month's partial shutdown of the government and engaged in a burst of hiring in January, adding 304,000 jobs, the most in almost a year.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said in its monthly jobs report the unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 4 percent despite job gains in the leisure and hospitality, construction, health care, and transportation and warehousing industries. Glassdoor saw a 10 percent bump in federal workers looking for jobs on its website two weeks after the government shutdown started - when they missed their first paychecks. Hospitals added 18,800 jobs in January, up from 7,400 jobs added in December. The central bank kept rates steady in January and promised to be patient when making decisions this year.

Numerous remaining furloughed federal employees were classified as "employed but absent from work", so those employees were not counted in the unemployment rate.

January marked the 100th straight month of jobs growth, by far the longest on record.

Job growth in December was revised sharply lower, to 222,000 from a previously estimated 312,000.

The shutdown also drove about half a million people into part-time work, swelling this group to 5.1 million, its highest level in 16 months.

The government added 8,000 jobs last month. Education and health care added 55,000 jobs, retailers almost 21,000 and professional and business services, which includes such higher-paying positions as engineers and architects, 30,000. The furloughed employees, though, were not counted as unemployed even if they did receive unemployment benefits during the shutdown.

But the shutdown was also a driver of the rise in the unemployment rate, since the separate survey of households used to determine the joblessness counted furloughed workers as well as contractors as unemployed. That's just below the annual gain of 3.3 percent in December, which matched October and November for the fastest increase since April 2009. But in the other survey, which measures the jobless rate, a lot of these same workers were counted as unemployed. And the number of people working part time but looking for more work increased a lot last month.

"The respectable employment data provides something of a relief, for now at least, for members of the Federal Reserve who have been bracing for the possibility of a more serious slowdown in the USA economy", said Mark Hamrick, a senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com. And the housing market has slumped as mortgage rates have increased.

"This is the sweet spot for investors right now", Long said.



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