State adds more than 11K jobs in January

Jeannie Matthews
March 11, 2019

Construction lost 31,000 jobs in the month. That increase followed a gain of just two cents between December 2018 and the first month of this year.

United States hiring was the weakest in more than a year while wage gains were the fastest of the expansion and the unemployment rate fell, a possible sign that America's jobs engine is starting to slow down. It supports the Federal Reserve's "patient" approach toward further interest rate increases this year.

Julia Pollak, a labor economist at jobs marketplace ZipRecruiter, said many companies are becoming increasingly hungry for workers.

The financial markets scarcely reacted to the report. The Labor Department noted that 390,000 people reported they couldn't get to work because of weather, after a relatively mild January.

The length of the average workweek fell to 34.4 hours last month from 34.5 hours in January. Treasuries rose while the dollar and stock futures fell. The dollar held earlier losses.

The sluggish hiring and job cuts in February were widespread across industries. However, the number is still behind the national average and neighboring MA (both at 1.8 percent for the year).

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The decline in the unemployment rate may seem contradictory to the weak job creation, but the figure is derived from a different survey and reflects a shrinking labor force.

The drop in the unemployment rate partially reflected the return to work of federal employees who had been furloughed during the partial government shutdown, the Labor Department said. The longest shutdown in US history ended on January 25. The state's unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.8 percent.

Average hourly earnings rose 11 cents, or 0.4 percent, in February after gaining 0.1 percent in January.

"At 3.4% year-over-year, wage gains hit their highest mark since April 2009". Overall, wage inflation remains moderate. That compares with a 1.5 percent increase in the consumer price index for all urban consumers from January 2018 to January 2019.

The current labor market is widely viewed as the best since the start of the 2000s, most economists and business leaders say.

If the jobs report matches economists' estimates, that would be the lowest number since September. Data for January showed the US economy added 304,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate increased to 4 percent, generally recognized as the benchmark for full employment. Manufacturing gained just 4,000 jobs - far fewer than the 21,000 that were added in January.

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