By Oxford Group‘s President, Carlo Barbieri.

While President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi were battling back and forth about the recent government shutdown and where, if and when the president could deliver his State of the Union address, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its first monthly Employment Situation Report of 2019. It clearly showed that the United States economy is continuing its historic streak of positive job gains in the new year.

The bureau reported that total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 304,000 jobs in January, far surpassing market expectations (165,000) and above the prior 12-month average gain (223,000).
As a result, January 2019 marked the 100th straight month of positive job growth and the 16th consecutive month of employment growth of at least 100,000 new jobs.

So, when the president finally got the go-ahead to present his SOTU speech, he played up the financial gains, calling the US economy “strong.”

To date, the national media have not been kind to President Trump in the reporting of his positive accomplishments. But even the Associated Press took the high road when it offered this comment on the January 2019 job numbers:

“The healthy gain the government reported Friday illustrated the job market’s durability nearly a decade into the economic expansion…. The unemployment rate did rise in January to 4 percent from 3.9 percent, but mostly for a technical reason. Roughly 175,000 workers were counted as temporarily unemployed because of the government shutdown.”

The AP also stated: “The strong job market is also encouraging more people who weren’t working to begin looking.  The proportion of Americans who either have a job or are seeking one – which had been unusually low since the recession ended a decade ago – reached 63.2 percent in January, the highest level in more than five years.”

Also, the labor force participation rate for prime-age adults (ages 25-54) increased by 0.3 percentage points to 82.6 percent. The last time it was that high was April 2010.

Job gains in December were revised downward by 90,000 and November jobs were revised up by 20,000 for a cumulative loss to total employment of 70,000 jobs in those previous months. Nevertheless, despite these downward revisions, the 223,000 average monthly jobs created in 2018 remains well above the pace of monthly job creation in 2016 (193,000) and 2017 (179,000).

Numerous sectors experienced job growth in January, including mining and logging (7,000), transportation and warehousing (27,000), construction (52,000), education and health services (55,000) and leisure and hospitality (74,000). The economy has added 4.9 million jobs since January 2017 and 5.3 million jobs since Trump was elected president in November 2016.

The report also indicates that wages are continuing to rise. Nominal average hourly earnings rose by 3.2 percent over the past 12 months, marking the sixth straight month that year-over-year wage gains were at or above 3 percent.

Prior to 2018, nominal average hourly wage gains had not reached 3 percent since April 2009.
Taking inflation into account, real wages are also growing. Based on the most recent Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index data from November, inflation in the past year was 1.8 percent, and based on the most recent Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) price data from December, the inflation in the past year was 1.9 percent (the most recently available data).

The BLS concluded that January’s employment data “depicts a strong American economy. With a continued low unemployment rate, historic trends in job gains and rising wages, this employment report provides further evidence that the administration’s pro-growth, pro-worker policies are working.”