Slow But Steady: 151,000 New Jobs in January, Unemployment Rate Down to 4.9 Percent


February 5, 2016

The latest jobs numbers are out from the federal government. What do they mean for job seekers and employers? Here’s a quick take from Glassdoor’s Chief Economist Dr. Andrew Chamberlain:

With recent stock market volatility, poor earnings reports, and continued tough times for the energy sector and U.S. exporters, many economists were fearful that today’s jobs report might signal a broader slowing trend.

However, with 151,000 new jobs created and an unemployment rate down to a remarkably low 4.9 percent, today’s jobs report revealed a U.S. labor market that remains strong and fundamentally healthy in the face of growing economic headwinds—both at home and globally.

In terms of wage growth, average hourly wages were up 2.5 percent from one year ago in January. That’s slower than the 3 to 4 percent growth we’d expect in normal times, but is consistent with a steady upward trend in wage growth we’ve seen in recent months. With the unemployment rate ticking below 5 percent last month, watch for a wage pick up to follow soon behind.

Today’s biggest job gains were in retail (+57,700 jobs), leisure and hospitality (+44,000 jobs), manufacturing (+29,000 jobs), construction (+18,000 jobs) and finance (+18,000 jobs). The biggest job losers in January were temporary help services (-25,200 jobs), transportation and warehousing (-20,500 jobs), mining and logging (-7,000 jobs) and government (-7,000 jobs).

While we remain cautious on our outlook for U.S. job growth, today essentially every economic indicator of the labor market—both official BLS statistics and Glassdoor’s real-time indicators of job growth—remains positive. While anecdotes of oil and gas layoffs and slowing manufacturing have been widely debated, there is little actual evidence of a slow down in today’s labor market data.

From a longer-term perspective, despite some signs of slowing the U.S. labor market remains the strongest in a generation, with near-record levels of job openings, a labor force at what most economists consider “full employment,” and clear signs of steady—albeit very slow—acceleration of wage growth. For job seekers looking to make a move, now is the time to take advantage of today’s historically strong hiring environment while it lasts.

To speak with Dr. Andrew Chamberlain about today’s jobs report or to discuss labor market trends, contact pr at Glassdoor dot com. For the latest economics and labor market updates, follow @adchamberlain on Twitter and subscribe to Glassdoor Economic Research.