Despite Government Shutdown, Job Growth Soars in January

COMMENTARY Jobs and Labor

Despite Government Shutdown, Job Growth Soars in January

Feb 1st, 2019 2 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Tim Doescher

Associate Director, Coalition Relations

Tim is the Associate Director of Coalition Relations.
The U.S. economy added 304,000 jobs in January, with the labor force participation rate reaching its highest level in five years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Ezra Bailey/Getty Images

The U.S. economy has rolled expert predictions yet again.

On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that employers added 304,000 jobs in January, crushing expert predictions that estimated only 170,000 jobs. 

This shows the continued strength of the U.S. economy, even in spite of the uncertainty created by the government shutdown.   

In addition to this being the 100th straight month of job creation, the labor force participation rose for the fifth straight month, and workers continued to see their pay steadily increase.

While there were significant revisions to the November and December jobs numbers (down 70,000 total from what was initially reported), over the last three months we have averaged a strong 241,000 jobs per month.

The unemployment rate ticked up from 3.9 to 4 percent, potentially due to the government shutdown, while the labor force participation rate grew to the highest level in five years, reaching 62.3 percent. 

This signals that Americans are continuing to jump back into the labor force and fill the nearly 7 million jobs currently open.  

Among the major worker groups, the jobless rates for adult men (3.7 percent), adult women (3.6 percent), teenagers (12.9 percent), whites (3.5 percent), African-Americans (6.8 percent), and Asians (3.1 percent) showed little change over the month. Hispanics, however, saw an uptick in joblessness from 4.4 percent to 4.9 percent.

We continued to see solid gains in crucial sectors, including leisure and hospitality (+74,000 jobs), construction (+52,000 jobs), health care (+42,000 jobs), transportation and warehousing (+27,000 jobs), retail trade (+21,000 jobs), manufacturing (+13,000 jobs), and mining (+7,000).   

Workers continue to see more pay, as average hourly earnings steadily rose by 3 cents to $27.56. Over the year, earnings have increased by 85 cents, or 3.2 percent. 

This latest report isn’t the only sign of a strong employment situation in the U.S. According to a recent Wall Street Journal analysis, disabled workers are joining the job market at the highest level in years, and the number of Americans receiving Social Security disability benefits is declining. 

In addition, layoffs have fallen to their lowest level since 1969, as jobless claims declined by 13,000 from the previous week, according to a Labor Department report issued last week.  

So what does this mean? 

It means that policy matters. It means job creators like it when government intervenes less, and when they have to pay fewer taxes.  

Despite this mounting evidence, there is a growing number of people on the left calling for an entirely different direction. The “green new deal,” pushed by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, would use the heavy hand of government to replace fossil fuels with so-called “green energy.” Others want to raise taxes to as high as 90 percent and completely abolish private health care, replacing it with government health care.

All this, in the midst of such a powerful economic boom. 

We know what works, and these leftist ideas will not work. They have failed wherever they have been tried. We must stick to the policies that are giving job creators the confidence to raise wages and hire more. We must continue to enact policy that gives business owners more freedom and less regulation from Washington, D.C.

The opposition is speaking loudly, but we have a better story to tell—one based on facts that are unfolding before us month by month. This is the recovery we’ve been waiting for. Let’s keep it going.

This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal