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January Shows Continued Job Growth for the US Economy

On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the latest job statistics for the American economy. The report demonstrated higher figures than those previously predicted by economists. The stock market fell slightly on Friday as many investors interpreted the new numbers to mean that increased inflation is on the horizon.

According to the report, 200,000 new jobs were added to the US economy in January 2018, significantly more than the 180,000 jobs that analysts had predicted would be added. The Department of Labor also reported that average hourly wages for American workers rose 0.3% in January, in contrast with January 2017 when wages experienced no change at all.

In January, the unemployment rate remained unchanged from December’s unemployment rate of 4.1%. However, the U6 unemployment rate, a number includes discouraged workers and workers who have opted for part-time positions because they can’t find full-time jobs, rose in January to 8.2%.

Growth in various sectors held steady for January. The all-important construction and manufacturing sectors continued to add jobs in the first month of 2018. In January, 36,000 new construction jobs were added to the market, while manufacturers hired 15,000 new employees. The restaurant industry added 31,000 jobs, and the health care sector also added 21,000 new positions.

Despite the strong monthly growth, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also released revised unemployment numbers for 2017. The new statistics show that the American economy added 2.17 million jobs in 2017, a drop from the 2.24 million jobs added to the economy in 2016. This revised number marks the lowest annual job growth since 2012.

In response to the new numbers, the S&P, the Nasdaq and the Dow Jones all saw a quick drop on Friday. Industry analysts speculated that the drop stemmed from investor fears that the Federal Reserve might decide to raise interest rates in response to strong wage growth. If wages continue to grow in February, the new Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell may opt to increase interest rates in March to combat inflation.