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You are Here: Home > Blog > Unemployment Rate – January 2018

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Unemployment Rate – January 2018

Friday, February 2nd, 2018

Job gains were better in January than analysts had expected and wages grew at their fastest pace since 2009. The January unemployment rate remained at a 17-year low.

According to the most recent monthly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the private sector gained 196,000 nonfarm jobs in January. Local, state and federal governments gained 4,000 jobs, resulting in 200,000 total net job gains for the month. Analysts had expected around 180,000 job gains.

After BLS revisions, November and December job gains were 24,000 fewer than originally estimated. Job gains have averaged 192,000 per month over the last 3 months.

Job growth continued to trend upward in construction (36,000), food services and drinking places (31,000), health care (21,000), and manufacturing (15,000). (Job gains shown in parenthesis.) All other major industries showed little change.

The unemployment rate in January held at 4.1 percent for the fourth month in a row. That’s its lowest level since December 2000 when it was 3.9 percent.

The average hourly wage for all private-sector employees showed a better-than-average monthly gain, rising by 9 cents to $26.74 after an 11-cent gain in December. Over the year, average hourly wages have risen by 75 cents (2.9 percent). The average hourly wage increased by 3 cents to $22.34 for private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees.

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Unemployment Rate 2016-2018
Unemployment Rate Chart 2016 to 2018

The unemployment rate edged down to 4.1 percent in October 2017 and remained there through January 2018. The total number of workers that the BLS counted as unemployed in January was 6.7 million, up slightly from 6.6 million in December.

The count of unemployed workers does not include those who are involuntarily working only part time and with fewer benefits, if any, such as no health insurance, because they can’t find full-time jobs or employers cut their work hours. The number of involuntarily part-timers in January was 5.0 million, up slightly from 4.9 million in December.

The average workweek in January for all part-timers and full-timers in the private sector was 34.3 hours, down from 34.5 hours in December.

The unemployment rate also does not include “marginally-attached” unemployed workers. The BLS does not count them in the official rate because they stopped looking for work in the four weeks preceding the count, for reasons such as school attendance, family matters or their collective perception that there simply are no jobs — at least not for them.

The number of marginally-attached workers in January was 1.7 million, up a bit from 1.6 in December. Among the marginally-attached, 451,000 were so-called “discouraged workers” because they gave up looking for work due to their shared perception that there are no jobs. That was down from 474,000 in December. (The BLS does not seasonally adjust any of the figures in this paragraph.)

The number of long-term unemployed workers, those who have been without jobs for 27 weeks or longer, was 1.4 million in January, down a little from 1.5 in December. These workers accounted for 21.5 percent of the unemployed. Standard state unemployment benefits last only up to 26 weeks without extensions.

If you are a recent victim of a job loss or a reduction in work hours, then you might be eligible to collect full or partial unemployment benefits from the state unemployment office. You might also be eligible to continue your employer-provided group health insurance coverage through COBRA.

For more details about the January 2018 unemployment rate and job numbers, see the “Employment Situation Summary” by the BLS. The BLS plans to report the February 2018 unemployment rate and job numbers on Friday, March 9. To receive notification like the above automatically, subscribe to Employee Rights Blog for free.

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Except where otherwise noted, figures in this unemployment rate report were rounded and/or seasonally adjusted by the BLS, and are subject to revision by same (based on additional data that was not initially available). The unemployment rate chart pictured above was provided by the BLS.

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