U.S. economy adds whopping 517,000 jobs in January


The U.S. economy added 517,000 jobs in January, and the unemployment rate fell to 3.4% — the lowest level in over a half-century, the government said on Friday.

Why it matters: 

Employers added jobs at an unexpectedly rapid pace, the latest sign of a hot labor market despite aggressive moves by the Federal Reserve to cool it down.

  • The numbers are more than double the 190,000 forecasters anticipated.

Details:

The extraordinary report comes as the Fed continues to dial back its pace of interest rates and prepares to raise rates further to restrain the economy and chill still-high inflation.

  • Fed chair Jerome Powell has acknowledged progress on slowing inflation in recent months while noting risks lie ahead. Among them is wage growth, which is rising at a pace still too swift for the Fed’s comfort.
  • In January, average hourly earnings rose 0.3% — or 4.4% over the previous year, according to Friday’s data.

The big picture:

The data also showed that employment in 2023 was even stronger than initially thought, with roughly 568,000 more jobs than previously reported.

  • The update was part of the Labor Department’s annual revisions, which incorporate more complete data from insurance records and updated seasonal adjustments.

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