U.S. Economy Added 353,000 Jobs In January, Beating Expectations; Entertainment Industry Continues To Recover After Strikes

The U.S. economy added 353,000 jobs in January, well above expectations and further indication that the market remains robust despite fears of a recession.

Unemployment remained unchanged at 3.7%. The biggest gains were in professional and business services, health care, retail trade, and social assistance, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Average hourly earnings rose by 19 cents during the month. The increase has been 4.5% over the past 12 months.

There also were gains in the entertainment industry, with the strikes down in the rearview mirror. Employment in motion picture and sound recording rose to 444,800, up 11,700 from the previous month.

Despite recent news of widespread layoffs in the news business throughout the month, broadcasting and content provider jobs were largely unchanged at 343,600. Employment in publishing industries rose to 938,000, up 2,900. The BLS often adjusts its data as more information becomes available. And overall, employment in information industries — which include entertainment, publishing and broadcasting — is down 76,000 since a recent peak in November, 2022.

There were further bright spots in the report: The BLS revised its estimates of job growth in November by 9,000 additional jobs, to 182,000, and in December by 117,000, to 330,000.

Some projections had been that the economy would add 180,000 jobs during January.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moodys Analytics, had some words of caution about the figures.

He wrote on Twitter, “Head-scratcher. That’s the January jobs report. Payroll jobs surged in the month, and previous months were revised up, but hours worked declined big as did household employment. Measurement problems are clearly at play. But abstracting from all the statistical noise, the signal is the economy is VERY strong.”

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