Two weeks into the official Trump administration, the first jobs report debuted. The data was mixed.
The numbers themselves show that the economy added 227,000 jobs, and at the same time, the unemployment rate ticked higher to 4.8 percent in January from its last reading of 4.7 percent in the prior month.
The additions to the job rosters far outpaced the 180,000 individuals analysts had expected businesses to add in the month.
The “mixed” part came with the fact that wage gains were below expectations, as average hourly earnings were up a scant 10 basis points, sequentially, with consensus at 30 basis points. The measurement year over year was at 2.5 percent growth, below the 2.8 percent growth economists sought. The total number of hours worked inched up slightly to 34.4 from a prior 34.3.
The data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics may or may not give pause to the Fed as wage gains do indeed factor into inflation estimates, which in turn factor into decisions to raise interest rates or keep them steady.
The biggest gains in the payrolls came through retail, up 46,000 positions and construction jobs, up 36,000 positions.
The various stock markets took the news well, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up about 85 basis points, and the broader Standard and Poor’s 500 Stock Index up 70 basis points. With sanguine hiring trends, there’s another data point that may cheer firms and investors, as the labor force participation rate has gone up, too. The rate is now 62.9 percent, the best showing in about four months. This data point implies that those U.S. workers who had given up on job searches, for a variety of reasons, are now back in the labor force, having found and accepted work.