Employment increases by 304,000 in January, unemployment rate at 4%

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 304,000 in January, and the unemployment rate edged up to 4.0 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on February 1. Job gains occurred in several industries, including leisure and hospitality, construction, health care, and transportation and warehousing.

Construction employment rose by 52,000 in January. Job gains occurred among specialty trade contractors, with increases in both the nonresidential (+19,000) and residential (+15,000) components.

Employment in manufacturing continued to trend up in January (+13,000).

Wage growth, however, continues to be a concern for many labor market economists. The Economic Policy Institute recently released a report that shows how average wages have stagnated since the Great Recession.


January was the 11th straight month of the U.S. unemployment rate being at 4% or lower. Wage gains increase 3.5% annualized over the past 12 months.