Strong Hiring Seen at Start of New Year

By Toni Vranjes

February 3, 2017

Employment growth was strong at the beginning of the new year, with the economy racking up 227,000 new jobs in January.

“That’s a good number,” said Andrew Challenger, vice president of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The growth was powered partly by retail trade, which added 46,000 new jobs. Other areas of growth included construction, up by 36,000; and financial activities, which gained 32,000 jobs. Meanwhile, the jobless rate increased slightly, from 4.7 percent to 4.8 percent.

“The January labor report was, by and large, a good one,” wrote IHS Markit Chief Economist Nariman Behravesh in an analysis.

But not all the news was good. Although wages increased by 3 cents in January, the news there was still surprising.

“While the number of jobs added exceeded people’s expectations, wages didn’t rise as much as people expected,” Challenger said.

In his analysis, Behravesh wrote that the most disappointing part of the January jobs report was “the continuing sluggish growth in wages, which suggests that there still may be some slack in the labor market.” The month-over-month increase in wages was only 0.1 percent last month, compared to 0.3 percent in December, Behravesh noted.

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