The U.S. unemployment rate rose slightly in January, while the net gain in jobs was stronger than most economists predicted.
Friday’s report from the Labor Department says the unemployment rate rose one-tenth of a percent to 4.8 percent as more people sought jobs. Workers are not officially counted as unemployed unless they have sought jobs in the past four weeks. Many of the new jobs were in construction and retail shops.
The U.S. economy gained 227,000 more jobs than it lost in January, which is better than expected. But the growth in wages was a disappointing one-tenth of one percent, which is slower than the previous month.
PNC Bank economist Gus Faucher says “Wage growth has picked up over the past few years, but it remains tepid.” He says that is surprising because the U.S. economy has added more than 15 million jobs over the past seven years, and the unemployment rate has been below five percent for well over a year.
BLS data show that 7.6 million Americans are still out of work and another 5.8 million people who want to work full time can only find part time employment. Those totals were little changed in January. Another half-a-million people are called “discouraged workers” because they want to work but have not searched for jobs recently because they think there is nothing available for them.
A website that focuses on employment, “Indeed.com” reports a surge in job-related searches in the United States and other advanced nations where they operate. France saw a nearly 72 percent surge in job searches while the Indeed website in Ireland reported a nearly 67 percent increase in job seeker activity.
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