U.S. Economy Adds 353,000 Jobs in January

It was a pretty good start to the new year for the U.S. jobs market.

The U.S. economy added a better-than-expected 353,000 jobs in January, according to information released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s nearly double the 183,000 economists had expected.

January’s job gains were also higher than December’s revised figures, which showed there were 333,000 jobs created last month, Yahoo Finance reported. Initial data out last month showed there were 216,0000 additions to the workforce in the final month of 2023. Combined, revisions for November and December added a total of 126,000 additional jobs compared to initial reports.

The unemployment rate also held steady in January at 3.7% for the third straight month.

Wages increased 0.6% on a monthly basis and 4.5% over last year; economists had expected wages to rise 0.3% over last month and 4.1% over last year, according to Yahoo Finance.

It wasn’t all good news, though, as some key metrics did decline. The labor force participation rate ticked lower to 62.5%, down from 62.6% the month prior, while average weekly hours worked moved down slightly from 34.3 to 34.1, Yahoo Finance reported.

The largest jobs increases in Friday’s report were seen in professional and business services, which added 74,000 jobs in February, well above its 2023 monthly average of 14,000 jobs. Meanwhile, healthcare added 70,000 jobs and retail trade gained 45,000 jobs.

On Wednesday Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell described the labor market as “at or nearing normal but not totally back to normal.” 

“It’s still a good labor market for wages and for finding a job,” Powell added, according to Yahoo Finance. “But it’s getting back into balance. And that’s what we want to see.”