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U.S. employers continued to add jobs in January for the 88th consecutive month, with an estimated 200,000 new nonfarm jobs added to the workforce, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation Report issued February 2.

The unemployment rate remained unchanged at just 4.1% for the fourth straight month. That is the lowest unemployment level since December 2000.

unemployment

Job gains for December 2017 were revised up from 148,000 to 160,000, while the November total was revised down from 252,000 to 216,000.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by $0.09 to $26.74, following an $0.11 gain in December. Year-over-year, average hourly earnings have risen by $0.75, or 2.9%.

average hourly earnings percent change

However, the average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls declined by 0.2 of an hour to 34.3 hours in January. In manufacturing, the workweek declined by 0.2 of an hour to 40.6 hours, while overtime remained at 3.5 hours.

total private average weekly hours of all employees

Initial jobless claims have remained at an extremely low level, with 230,000 claims filed the week ending January 27, according to the Department of Labor Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims report. The 4-week moving average was 234,500, a decrease of 7,250 from the previous month’s level of 241,750. The recent jobs claims average has been at the lowest level since 1973.

initial unemployment claims

The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending January 20 was 1,953,000, a slight increase from a month earlier of 1,914,000. The insured unemployment average over the past few months has been in a range lower than at any period since 1973. This is even more significant considering that the size of the labor force is much larger today than it was 45 years ago.

Jobless claims have remained under 300,000 for 152 consecutive weeks – the longest stretch since 1970.

Here are some of the other key trends highlighted in the Employment Situation report:

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) dipped slightly from 1.5 million to 1.4 million in January, and accounted for 21.5% of the unemployed.

long-term unemployment - 27 weeks or more

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons inched up from 4.9 million in December to 5.0 million in January.

part time for economic reasons

The labor force participation rate remained at 62.7% for the fourth straight month. The employment-population ratio was at 60.1% for the third straight month.

The labor force participation rate for those in their prime working years (age 25-54) was at 81.7%, a slight dip from 81.8% in December.1 That is about 1.2% below the pre-recession level, and continues to be a weakness in the employment recovery.

labor force participation rate

We expect the employment market to continue to expand in the months ahead, based on economic and corporate growth trends. But slow wage growth and the low participation rate for those in their prime working years remain a concern. However, if job growth continues, we could see an improvement in both of those areas in the months ahead.

 

Media contact:  Samantha Mehrotra, 612-844 4197; samantha.mehrotra@thrivent.com

 

 

All information and representations herein are as of February 2, 2018, unless otherwise noted.

The views expressed are as of the date given, may change as market or other conditions change, and may differ from views expressed by other Thrivent Asset Management associates. Actual investment decisions made by Thrivent Asset Management will not necessarily reflect the views expressed. This information should not be considered investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or product.  Investment decisions should always be made based on an investor's specific financial needs, objectives, goals, time horizon, and risk tolerance.


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