U.S. employment up and wages down in latest employment report

The US economy added 304,000 jobs in January a surprisingly strong month

In December, the economy added a revised 222,000 jobs.

The U.S. Labor Department reports that non-farm payrolls surged by 304,000 last month.

Average hourly earnings rose 3.2% from a year earlier.

The new numbers were welcome news for President Donald Trump, whose already-low public approval rating suffered in the wake of the longest government shutdown in United States history.

The strong job market is also encouraging more people who weren't working to begin looking. Meanwhile, the US added approximately 304,000 jobs, particularly in the leisure and hospitality, transportation and warehousing, construction, and health care industries.

Still, restaurants continued to hire at a faster rate than the overall economy.

The unemployment rate ticked up slightly in January, from 3.9 to 4.0 percent, while wages rose 3 cents on average.

Economists point to the job report as proof of the economy's underlying strength, despite noise from the markets or politicians. The figures blew away expectations of many economists who had predicted about 165,000 jobs would be added in the first month of the year. The rate hit a 49-year low of 3.7 percent in September and remained unchanged in October and November. The unemployment rate rose to 4 percent, its highest level since June, which the Labor Department attributed to the impact of the shutdown.

China's economy is decelerating sharply, the United Kingdom is struggling to negotiate its exit from the European Union, and Italy's economy has entered recession, exacerbating fears that slower global growth will cut into US exports.

The US economy added 304,000 jobs in January, a surprisingly strong month of hiring as employers continue to bring in new workers. The furloughed employees, though, were not counted as unemployed even if they did receive unemployment benefits during the shutdown.

But in a separate survey of households that's used to calculate the unemployment rate, some of these people were counted as temporarily jobless. Today's employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) will capture some of the disruption caused by the shutdown, but not all, due to differences in methodology of the two primary surveys that inform the jobs report.

Retail jobs, however, have stayed essentially flat over the past year as e-commerce - usually represented in the transportation and warehousing category - has taken over an increasing share of employment in the sector.

NOGUCHI: You're right. The longer term trend is what matters.

Clouds have been gathering over the economic expansion, now in its ninth year and the second longest on record, with business and consumer confidence deteriorating in recent months. And this latest data doesn't actually change the monthly average very much. Interestingly, there was a dramatic spike in the number of Americans working part-time jobs in January.

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