Reversing the downturn seen at the end of 2020, jobs expanded in January by 49,000 according the latest Labor Department figures (however, well below the 130-150,000 estimated increase needed on a monthly basis to stay-up with growing demographics). Non-seasonally adjusted construction unemployment decreased to 9.4 percent in January [down 0.2 percentage points vs. December ‘20, while remaining 4.0 percentage points above a year ago in January 2020 when it stood at 5.4%]. Construction employment on the whole changed little over the month (-3,000), after increasing for 8 consecutive months.
The overall unemployment figure slide to 6.3 percent i.e., down 0.4 percentage points. (“Unemployed persons” also dropped to 10.1 million per the government count, down 600K). The “labor force participation” got slightly worse down to 61.4 percent. [NOTE: The “labor force participation” rate “typically” works inversely to the overall unemployment figures. Meaning: as it deteriorates/gets worse or smaller, it actually is counted as improving unemployment (i.e., people leaving the workforce are no longer viewed/counted as unemployed by the DOL). Conversely, the “employment to population ratio” improved slightly to 57.5 percent. Average hourly earnings for employees increased slightly to $25.18, fairly high due to the fact lower wage earners are being disproportionally impacted by the renewed partial government mandated shutdowns.
The seeming anomaly in the numbers (newly hired vs. number counted as unemployed persons = unemployment percentages) appears to suggests a large number of Americans have simply “given up looking for work” at this time, which means they don’t count as unemployed persons under the governments tracking; thereby reducing the overall unemployment percentage even though the actually number of new jobs (49K) is fairly modest.
Workforce Statistics Chart