|The economy added 517,000 jobs in January. No one saw this coming. Consensus expectations were for 185,000. We blew those out of the water.
Why it matters: The labor force also grew by 866,000 workers. We now have more workers in the labor force than pre-COVID but not nearly as many as we should have based on population growth.
- Leisure and Hospitality added 128,000; Education and Health 105,000; Professional and Business Services 82,000; Government 74,000; Wholesale and Retail Trade 41,400; Construction 25,000; and Transportation and Warehousing 23,000.
- Utilities (700) and Information (5,000) were the only industries to lose jobs.
And: Wage gains were strong again, rising 0.3% from December and 4.4% annually from January 2022.
But: The bad news remains the participation rate (the percentage of workers in the labor force as a share of the working-age population). It remains well below its pre-COVID level.
- If we had the same participation rate now as in February 2020, there would be 2.8 million more workers in the labor force.
Bottom line: Businesses still have 11 million openings to fill, so we need workers to keep coming back.