Monthly job growth in the U.S. has passed 200,000 for yet another month as hiring continues its robust streak and the focus shifts to furthering wage growth.
January saw payrolls in the country add another 257,000 jobs, as well as wage increases that outpace anything seen since the financial crisis. While the unemployment rate did manage to tick up slightly by one-tenth of a percentage point, to 5.7 percent, that is only because more people entered the the workforce after a long stretch of discouragement following the financial crisis. The labor market has become a significant driver of the American economic recovery, and it seems as though these days it's really starting to kick into full gear.
"These days the labor market is really starting to kick into full gear."
Recent hiring gains
The financial sector managed gains for yet another month as well. In January the U.S. added 26,000 finance jobs. The payroll gains in finance were mostly due to insurance carriers and similar organizations, whom together added a total of 14,000 jobs. Securities, commodity contracts and investment jobs were also added, with the three totaling about 5,000. Through the past 12 months 159,000 finance jobs have been created.
Month-after-month now employers have been opening up new positions, active job-seekers have been matching up with businesses and more people are encouraged to enter the job market with hiring picking up all around them. Labor force participation jumped from 62.7 percent to 62.9 percent. Along with another strong month for jobs added, as well as increase labor participation, January also brought with it wage growth.
2014 a 'breakthrough' for labor market in America
Additionally, hiring numbers for the final couple months of 2014 were revised, with both November and December's totals increasing. Initially the December payroll count came in at 252,000, but it has since been raised to 329,000. Meanwhile, the total for November started at 353,000 and was subsequently raised to plus 423,000. Hiring gains for the final two months of the year were in total 147,000 higher than the Bureau of Labor Statistics had originally estimated. President Obama actually called 2014 a "breakthrough year in America" due to the significant gains made last year.
Payroll has now made gains for 11-months straight as the U.S. continues its robust hiring streak. The past three months have averaged 336,000 jobs added, making it the best such streak of hiring since 1997.
Payroll gains have become the norm over the past year though. The real shocker in January was the hourly wage increase. For some time now salaries have remained stagnant, which has placed a damper on the otherwise relatively strong recovery in the labor market. On average hourly wages rose 12-cents-per-hour in January, the best increase in a single month since 2007. Over the last year wages have grown 2.2 percent, in contrast to the static state they had remained in for some time following the Great Recession.