The monthly jobs report came in stronger than expected this morning, with 257,000 new jobs in January, above the estimate of 237,000. In addition, the jobs numbers for November and December were revised upwards by a combined 147,000 jobs. November’s new jobs total, 423,000 is the highest since 1997.
The unemployment rate, however, ticked up a notch to 5.7 percent. That, counter-intuitively, is good news, as more people are entering the jobs market because they are more confident that they can now find work. The participation rate went up from 62.7 percent to 62.9 percent. A year ago, the rate was 62.5 percent.
Long-term unemployed, those without a job for at least the last 27 weeks, number 2.8 million, up slightly from last month but way down from last January, when the number was 3.69 million. The under employed, those working part time who would like full-time work, also went up slightly from last month, to 6.8 million, but is also down substantially from last January, when the number stood at 7.8 million.
All in all, this is a good report and if the trend continues, the Fed is increasingly likely to begin tightening a bit by mid-year. That would be a powerful signal that the economy is finally back on track.
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