Job gains in January beat expectations, with gains of 517k jobs. Gains in November and December were revised up by a combined 71k.
On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, the net number of payrolls added in January is above the pre-covid average of the last ten Januaries. On a seasonally adjusted basis, January job gains were also above average based on longer-term history, and represent a re-acceleration from the steady pace of seasonal job gains over the last few months.
The unemployment rate fell to a multi-decade low at 3.4%. Labor force participation strengthened significantly in January relative to January.
|NFP growth, k||568||352||350||324||290||260||517|
|Prime-age UR, %||2.9||3.1||2.9||3.2||3.2||2.9||3|
|Prime-age LFPR, %||82.4||82.8||82.6||82.5||82.3||82.4||82.7|
|Prime-age EPOP, %||80||80.2||80.2||79.8||79.7||80.1||80.2|
|PTER, % of payrolls||2.5||2.6||2.4||2.3||2.3||2.4||2.5|
|Long-term UR, %||0.7||0.7||0.7||0.7||0.7||0.6||0.7|
|AHE, % m/m||0.5||0.3||0.3||0.4||0.4||0.4||0.3|
|AHE, % y/y||5.4||5.4||5.1||4.9||5||4.8||4.4|
|Source: BLS, @benbakkum.|
Transportation and warehousing as well as professional service jobs continue to stand out as industries where employment is growing at a strong pace, even though they’re already well above pre-pandemic levels of employment. Retail jobs have now surpassed pre-pandemic levels as well.
If the average job growth of the last three months continues at the same pace, the total number of jobs would fully recover to where it would have likely ended up had the pandemic not occurred in 2024. In many ways that would be an even tighter labor market than before the pandemic as the population has aged and a large number of workers have retired in the intervening period.
An aggregate measure of labor market conditions, the Blanchflower-Levin employment gap, shows that there is essentially no more slack left in the labor market. It’s important to note however, that the participation gap shown here is based on the overall participation rate.
Note: the unemployment gap is the difference between the unemployment rate and an estimate of the non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment (NAIRU). The participation gap is the difference between the labor force participation rate (LFPR) and the CBO’s estimate of the potential LFPR. The underemployment gap is the difference between the number of employees working part-time for economic reasons as a percentage of the labor force, adjusted for the difference in the average number of hours worked by part-time and full-time employees, and the 1994-2007 average of this calculation.