Economy added 225,000 jobs in January, marking a robust start to 2020

The labor market data does not reflect the global impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Those effects will show up in this month's numbers.

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By Lucy Bayly

The economy added a robust 225,000 jobs in January, evidence of a blockbuster start to 2020, although the labor market data was collected before the global disruption of the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak. The economic effects of the outbreak will be reflected in this month’s numbers.

The release of the job numbers Friday capped a week that saw the conclusion of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial and a State of the Union address that focused on the nation's booming economy.

The unemployment rate last month ticked up slightly from 3.5 percent to 3.6 percent, still the lowest in five decades, according to Friday’s monthly snapshot from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Wage growth saw a slight increase, likely due to the fact that 21 states raised their minimum wage on Jan. 1, resulting in wage gains for around 7 million people. Average hourly earnings rose by 3.1 percent on an annual basis.

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The monthly jobs number far outpaced analysts' expectations, which forecast a total of around 165,000 jobs added during the month of January. Data was also revised upwards for the months of November and December 2019, which added 5,000 and 2,000 more jobs, respectively. That brings the three-month average for job creation to 211,000.

While the continued grounding of Boeing's 737 Max planes likely had an impact on the manufacturing sector, which lost 12,000 positions, the construction and hospitality sectors saw an uptick due to unseasonably warm weather during the month of January. Hospitality gained 36,000 jobs and construction saw 44,000 positions added.

"Another month of knockout jobs numbers is, at this point, astounding," said Steve Rick, chief economist at CUNA Mutual Group. "This just goes to show that the labor market is more than buoyant. Even though December missed expectations, labor growth remained positive and well above 100,000, which is the number we need to keep up with population growth."