The US jobs market has now added jobs for a record 100 months in a row – shaking off last month’s government shutdown to add 304,000 jobs over January.
The streak of job creation began in October 2010 and is more than twice as long as the previous record breaking run of 48 months that ended in June 1990.
In January the unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 4% and is now close to lows unseen since the 1960s.
Furloughed federal employees were counted as employed by the labour department but the impact on private sector workers is still being assessed. Unlike federal employees, contractors will not receive backpay for the 35-day shutdown – a closure that cost the US economy $11bn according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Much of that money should be regained as the government get back into action, according to the CBO. But the independent body said $3bn would be permanently lost and economists are still assessing longer-term impacts from canceled work.
The labour department said the rise in the unemployment rate, now at its highest level since June, and a small rise in the total number of unemployed people t0 6.5 million was due in part to the “impact of the partial federal government shutdown”.
Wages rose by a seasonally adjusted 0.1%, in January, below economists’ expectations for a 0.3% monthly gain in hourly earnings. Wages have consistently lagged behind jobs growth since the job market bounced back from the last recession.
Gus Faucher, PNC bank’s chief economist, said it was a “great” report. “It’s much better than we expected and I think it indicates we will continue to see jobs growth throughout 2019,” he said.
On Wednesday ADP, the US’s largest payroll supplier, said the private sector had added 213,000 jobs in January.
Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, which helps compile the report, said: “The job market weathered the government shutdown well. Despite the severe disruptions, businesses continued to add aggressively to their payrolls. As long as businesses hire strongly the economic expansion will continue on.”