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Cristina Benton’s monthly commentary on the employment report

Each month, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics releases updated data on the employment situation in the U.S. The experts and Anderson Economic Group provide a summary and analysis of this information, including the average hourly earnings, unemployment rates, and labor market trends.

 “Overall, the labor market is getting tighter”, noted Cristina Benton, Director of Market and Industry Analysis at AEG. Today’s report also showed that average hourly earnings were slightly above the prior month and rose 2.9% in January relative to a year earlier. Industries with predominantly lower-wage jobs, such as construction, leisure and hospitality, and transportation and warehousing, have seen strong wage growth year over year. “This may indicate that the tight labor market is finally affecting wages”, said Dr. Benton. “Moving forward, skilled worker shortages and weak productivity could hinder companies’ efforts to meet growing demand and expand their operations.”

Employment report data, released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, showed better-than-expected growth in payroll jobs while the national unemployment rate stayed unchanged for the fourth consecutive month at 4.1%.

The U.S. economy continued its steady payroll growth in January adding 200,000 jobs, an increase higher than a year ago, in January 2017. This reflects employment gains in the following sectors: construction, manufacturing, health care, and food services and drinking places.

This hiring trend is taking place amidst one of the longest periods of economic growth, driven by a strong U.S. economy in its nine-year expansion. Domestic and global demand remains strong partially due to strong labor market and a weaker dollar which makes U.S.-made goods more competitive on the international market. The continued increase in construction spending reflects a strong demand for residential construction amidst a shortage of housing inventory. Numerous markets around the country, including Southeast Michigan, have seen strong residential home construction in 2017, and this is expected to continue in 2018.

The BLS report also reported annual revisions and routine data adjustments. Based on these revisions, the US economy gained a total of 2.173 million jobs in 2017, slightly higher than a prior estimate.