Economy Adds 304,000 Jobs in January as Workers See Modest Wage Gains

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the economy added 304,000 jobs in January. However, this was accompanied by a downward revision in reported job growth for the prior two months of 70,000. This puts average job growth over the last three months at 241,000.

The unemployment rate edged up to 4.0 percent. This may have been affected by the government shutdown, as many people who were furloughed reported being unemployed for the month. (The share of the unemployed who reported being on temporary layoffs rose from 12.1 percent to 14.6 percent.)

On the flip side, the employment-to-population ratio (EPOP) edged up to 60.7 percent, a new high for the recovery. The biggest factor here was a rise in the EPOP for prime-age men (ages 25 to 54) from 86.1 percent to 86.5 percent, a new high for the recovery. This is still 1.5 percentage points below the prerecession peak and 3.2 percentage points below the peak reached in 1999.

The EPOP for prime-age women also hit a new high for the recovery, edging up from 73.4 percent to 73.5 percent. This is 0.6 percentage points above its prerecession peak but still 1.4 percentage points below the peak hit in 2000.

Looking at unemployment by education, college grads continue to be the biggest losers, with a jump from 2.1 percent to 2.4 percent. This could be due to the shutdown, since federal employees are disproportionately college grads. Nonetheless, college grads are the only group not to see their unemployment rate fall below prerecession lows.

There was a jump of 490,000 to 5,147,000 in the number of people who reported working part-time for economic reasons. This is likely due to the shutdown. Interestingly, the number of people who voluntarily work part-time fell by 285,000 and is actually down slightly over the last year. One of the predicted effects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was that it would allow people to work part-time since…

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