The U.S. job market started 2024 on a very strong note as 353,000 jobs were added to the economy during January, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said.
The January figures outpaced a strong close to 2023, when the U.S. job market added 216,000 jobs during the month of December. The U.S. economy added 2.7 million jobs in 2023. January marked the highest number of new jobs added to the U.S. economy in a single month since last January.
The unemployment rate remained low and stable throughout the last year. The unemployment rate remained 3.7% for the third consecutive month. The latest job numbers come as numerous firms announced early-year layoffs, including UPS,Wayfair, Levi's and Macy's.
The unemployment rate has remained below 4% for 24 consecutive months, the longest such streak since October 1967 through December 1969.
The new job numbers come as the Federal Reserve has expressed optimism that inflation has turned a corner. The Federal Reserve has held interest rates at a 23-year high between 5.25% and 5.5% to quell inflation.
Keeping interest rates this high generally would cause job numbers to soften, but that hasn't been the case. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has said the Federal Reserve is trying to balance the need to reduce inflation while preventing the labor market from being stifled. In recent cases when interest rates increased, like they did in 2000 and 2007, a recession followed.
The newest job figures show that salaries are far outpacing inflation. According to the BLS, weekly wages have gone up 4.5% in the last 12 months. The consumer price index, the United States' top measure for consumer inflation, jumped 3.4% for the 12-month period ending in December.
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