January was a strong month for both job gains and wage increases, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Employers last month added 257,000 jobs in retail trade, construction, health care, financial activities and manufacturing, the bureau said Friday. After incorporating revisions for November and December, monthly job gains averaged 336,000 over the past three months.
The unemployment rate, at 5.7%, changed little in January and has shown no net change since October, the bureau said. The number of unemployed people, at 9 million, was little changed in January.
Meanwhile, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased in January by 12 cents to $24.75, following a decrease of 5 cents in December. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.2%. In January, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 7 cents to $20.80.
“2014 was a breakthrough year for the nation and the economy,” Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez said in a separate statement. “With sound leadership and smart investments, we can have a strong 2015, while laying the foundation for further growth in the long run.”
A Bloomberg article Friday said that the U.S. labor market “leaped forward in January, capping the greatest three-month jobs gain in 17 years and delivering the biggest wage increase since 2008.”
“These are pretty amazing numbers,” IHS Inc. chief economist Nariman Behravesh told Bloomberg. “The January number is strong, but then you’ve got sizzling November and December numbers too. And then you’ve got the wage gains.”
Wage growth was particularly noted in the Bloomberg article, as it could be tied to the Federal Reserve finally raising interest rates — or from the perspective of the labor market, borrowing costs.