Employment hits 11-year peak, weekly hours set all-time high in January; spending rises


Nonfarm payroll employment in January increased by 304,000, seasonally adjusted, from December and by 2,807,000 (1.9%) year-over-year (y/y) from January 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported February 1, 2019. The unemployment rate, 4.0%, increased slightly from December (3.9%) but decreased slightly from January 2018 (4.1%). Construction employment increased by 52,000 for the month and 338,000 (4.7%) y/y to 7,464,000, the most since January 2008. Average weekly hours in construction rose to 39.9 hours for all employees and 40.6 hours for production and nonsupervisory employees. These were the highest averages for these series since they began in 2006 and 1947, respectively. The unemployment rate in construction, not seasonally adjusted, fell to 6.4% (from 7.3% in January 2018), and the number of unemployed jobseekers with construction experience declined to 638,000 (down from 707,000). These were the lowest January figures in the 19-year history of both series. (Not-seasonally-adjusted data may be affected by normal weather and holiday patterns and thus should not be compared to levels in other months.) BLS made routine annual benchmarking adjustments in 2014-2018 employment totals.