Hiring Weakens in January, but Job Market Still Healthy

By Toni Vranjes

February 5, 2016

Although employment growth slowed down last month, many other elements of the jobs report were solid.

The economy created 151,000 new jobs in January, the Labor Department reported today. In contrast, 262,000 jobs were added in December, and 280,000 were created in November, according to revised data. Last month, employment gains were seen in retail trade, food and drinking establishments, and a number of other industries.

down_arrow_4_pt_9The weaker job growth is partly attributable to employers shedding temporary jobs following the holiday season, said Andrew Challenger, vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an outplacement and career-transition firm.

In January, unemployment was at the lowest level since early 2008. The jobless rate dropped to 4.9 percent, down from 5 percent in the previous month.

In another positive sign, average hourly earnings rose by 12 cents, according to the Labor Department. Over the last year, earnings increased by 2.5 percent. Meanwhile, the average workweek was up by 0.1 hour.

Overall, Challenger describes the report as quite good — despite the slower pace of job growth.

In 2015, the economy added a monthly average of 228,000 jobs, according to government data. But that pace might be unsustainable. “We’re getting close to full employment in the economy,” Challenger explained.

Even though hiring is less robust, “people are working more, and getting paid more,” he added.

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