Feb 2, 2024 - Business

U.S. economy adds whopping 353,000 jobs in January as labor market heats up

Data: U.S. Department of Labor; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: U.S. Department of Labor; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy added 353,000 jobs in January, while the unemployment rate held at 3.7%, the Labor Department said Friday.

Why it matters: The first look at the 2024 labor market shows it's on fire — not slowing down as previously thought.

Details: The January payroll figures show hiring picked up from the 333,000 added the prior month, which itself was revised higher by 117,000.

  • Job gains in November were revised slightly higher, too, by 9,000 to 182,000 jobs added.

What's new: The hiring boom last month came amid strong job gains in health care, retail and professional and business services, while mining and oil and gas extraction are among the sectors that shed jobs.

  • Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate — the share of workers with or looking for a job — was 62.5% in January.
  • Average hourly earnings, a measure of wage growth, soared by 0.6%. Over the past 12 month, average hourly earnings increased by 4.5%.

The big picture: The data is the latest in recent weeks to show that the economy is revving up, with fading inflation and steady hiring — a welcome development for the Biden administration that is touting its economic agenda ahead of the 2024 election.

The intrigue: The strong growth in both jobs and earnings will make the Federal Reserve reluctant to cut interest rates soon, out of fear that labor market strength could reverse progress on inflation.

  • Already this week, Fed chair Jerome Powell threw cold water on the idea of a March rate cut.

The bottom line: Despite high profile layoffs at media and technology companies, the report shows that broader labor market is heating up.

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