The Department of Labor employment numbers showed remarkable strength notwithstanding the partial federal government shutdown for the first month of 2019, with January’s release indicating a robust 304,000 new jobs; nearly identical to the December ’18 level. (It is generally accepted that it takes approximately 130-150,000 new jobs per month just to absorb the expanding workforce). Non-seasonally adjusted figures for construction revealed unemployment at 6.4 percent [up (1.3 basis points) with the seasonal winter slowdown vs. December ‘18 figure; but it was down (0.9 basis points) from a year ago in January 2018 when it stood at 7.3%]. The construction industry added approximately 52,000 employees to its rolls in January.
Overall unemployment moved-up 0.1 basis points to 4.0 percent driven in large measure by the 175,000 federal employees counted as temporarily unemployed. (As a result “unemployed persons” jumped to 6.5 million per the government count). The “labor force participation” rate increased 0.1 basis points to 63.2 percent. [This stat measures percentage of the eligible civilians in the labor force. At the end of the recession (June ’09) this rate stood at a healthier 65.7%. NOTE: The “labor force participation” rate works inversely to the overall unemployment figures, meaning: as it deteriorates, it actually is counted as improving unemployment (i.e., people leaving the workforce are no longer viewed/counted as unemployed by the DOL)]. The “employment to population ratio” also increased 0.1 basis points to 60.7 percent. The average hourly earnings for employees increased to start off 2019, a trend sustained over the last year.
You can view the current and historical Workforce Statistics charts here.