The Labor Department has reported that the U.S. generated 227,000 new jobs in January, increasing the percentage of working-age Americans in the workforce to 62.9%. The spike in jobs represents the biggest gain in four months, and towers above the 157,000 positions added in December.
According to the federal government, the construction and retail industries experienced strong gains in January as construction jobs rose by 36,000 and retailers increased their payrolls by 45,900. The trade, transportation and utilities industry increased jobs by 44,000. Financial services had its best month of job growth in nearly a year, adding 32,000 jobs. Healthcare, meanwhile, gained 18,000 new jobs.
Despite the gains, the unemployment rate rose slightly in January from 4.7% to 4.8%. Still, that was because more Americans were participating in the workforce – a positive sign for the U.S. economy.
“People feel more confident,” Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group, told the Los Angeles Times. “They’re out there looking for jobs. Not all of them got them, but most of them did.”
In January, paychecks grew 2.5% compared to a year ago, as average hourly wages rose to $26. Average weekly wages were up to $894.40.
The Labor Department conducted its jobs survey in the second week of January, when President Obama was still in office. Still, this was the first jobs report released under President Trump’s administration, giving the president an idea of the economy he has inherited. During his campaign, Trump promised to create 25 million new jobs in the next 10 years.
In Counselor’s State of the Industry report, roughly a third of survey respondents this year planned to increase personnel – numbers in line with results from the 2015 and 2014 versions of the survey.