257,000 Jobs Added, Labor Force Rate Rose in January

By Roy Maurer Feb 6, 2015
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Payroll employment rose by 257,000 in January 2015, while the labor force rose by 703,000 and the unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 5.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Feb. 6, 2015.

Job gains occurred in retail trade, construction, health care, financial activities and manufacturing.

“This was another strong report for the U.S. labor market,” said Joseph Coombs, senior analyst of workforce trends at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). “The job growth was very broad-based, which is always a positive sign for the economy’s overall health. More importantly, there were solid gains in blue-collar sectors such as construction and manufacturing. These were the industries that were hit hardest during the Great Recession, and, consequently, these are some of the people who likely have been out of work for extended periods of time.”

Employment in retail trade rose by 46,000 in January. Construction added 39,000 jobs, specifically in residential building (13,000). Health care employment increased by 38,000, specifically in physician’s offices (13,000).

Employment in finance rose by 26,000, and manufacturing jobs increased by 22,000 in January.

Professional and technical services added 33,000 jobs, including increases in computer systems design (8,000) and architectural and engineering services (8,000).

Employment in food services and drinking places held steady with consistent growth (35,000). In 2014, the industry added an average of 33,000 jobs per month.

Employment in mining and logging, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information technology, and government showed little change.

In January, average hourly earnings for all employees on private payrolls increased by 12 cents to $24.75, following a decrease of 5 cents in December.

Payroll employment for November 2014 was revised up from 353,000 to 423,000, and for December from 252,000 to 329,000, a total of 147,000 higher than previously reported. Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from businesses since the last published estimates and the monthly recalculation of seasonal factors, the BLS said.

“For HR professionals, a key question is if the more buoyant job market means they will have to reconsider some of their retention strategies, paying special attention to compensation,” said Jennifer Schramm, SHRM-SCP, manager of workforce trends and forecasting at SHRM.

“Even with recent strong gains in the labor market, HR professionals are still struggling to fill some openings,” Coombs said. “Recruiting difficulty has risen for manufacturers and service-sector companies on an annual basis for the past 11 months. As a result, some employers may be opening their wallets in order to attract top talent. If hiring rates continue to improve, we can expect real wage growth in these sectors, as well.”

Staffing Employment Up from a Year Ago

Temporary help employment showed little change from December 2014 to January 2015 but was 6.7 percent higher than in January 2014. Year-to-year staffing job growth averaged 5.7 percent in 2014, compared with 4.9 percent in 2013, according to BLS.

Year-to-year, there were 7.2 percent more staffing employees in January than in the same month last year. “Staffing firms are reporting that favorable labor market trends continued in January across most sectors,” said Richard Wahlquist, president and chief executive officer of the American Staffing Association.

Unemployment Rate Doesn’t Budge

The unemployment rate, up from 5.6 percent in December 2014, has shown no net change since October 2014. Nine million people are currently considered unemployed by the BLS.

“The positive trends in the economy could be driving more people to look for work, which could be why the unemployment rate ticked up slightly despite the healthy hiring numbers,” Schramm said.

The unemployment rate for teenagers (18.8 percent) increased in January, while the jobless rates for adult men (5.3 percent), adult women (5.1 percent), whites (4.9 percent), blacks (10.3 percent), Asians (4.0 percent) and Hispanics (6.7 percent) showed little or no change.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) remained static at 2.8 million. The long-term unemployed account for 31.5 percent of the unemployed.

The labor force participation rate rose by 0.2 of a percentage point to 62.9 percent, following a decline of equal weight last month.

The number of people referred to as involuntary part-time workers was essentially unchanged in January at 6.8 million.

Additionally, 2.2 million people were considered marginally attached to the labor force—unemployed, wanting and available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months; this number was down by 358,000 from January 2014. Among this group, 682,000 individuals were considered discouraged—not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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