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U.S. Added 227,000 Jobs In January, Outpacing Expectations

A woman holds a pamphlet announcing jobs listings during the JobNewsUSA job fair at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., in November 2016.
Joe Raedle
Getty Images
A woman holds a pamphlet announcing jobs listings during the JobNewsUSA job fair at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., in November 2016.

Updated at 1:30 p.m. ET

The U.S. added 227,000 jobs in January and the unemployment rate rose just slightly, ticking up a tenth of a percentage point to 4.8 percent, according to the monthly report released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The robust jobs number beat most predictions from economists, who had pegged the payroll increase at 175,000, according to NPR's Yuki Noguchi.

"That was better than most of us had been forecasting or expecting," Hugh Johnson, chief economist at Hugh Johnson Advisors, told our Newscast unit.

Several different sectors showed modest gains or stable numbers. Among other areas, construction, food services and health care all continued an upward trend in employment.

Meanwhile, average hourly wages showed a slight increase, rising by 3 cents, to $26, and adding to December's 6-cent bump.

Revisions to the previous month's estimates were modest, as the BLS ratcheted up December's gains to 157,000 from 156,000 — the last report released during Barack Obama's time in the White House. The agency took a scalpel to November's relatively positive report, revising its estimates downward to 164,000 jobs from the previously reported 204,000.

The BLS reports that over the past three months, employment has increased by an average of 183,000 jobs per month.

Friday's report is the first to be released in Donald Trump's presidency, though the bulk of the data was recorded before he took office two weeks ago.

On the campaign trail, The Associated Press notes, Trump had expressed skepticism about the validity of these jobs reports:

"[Trump] argued that the government's jobs data exaggerated the health of the economy. He called the unemployment rate a 'hoax' and said it declined after the recession under President Barack Obama mainly because many Americans stopped working or looking for work."

On Friday, however, White House press secretary Sean Spicer touted the jobs data as evidence of the health of the economy.

"Today's report reflects the consumer confidence that the Trump presidency has inspired," Spicer said at a news conference. "According to a recent Gallup Poll, economic confidence is at a new high and ADP showed strong private sector hiring. President Trump campaigned on how to make America work again. Even before he took office, the markets knew he would deliver on that promise."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Colin Dwyer covers breaking news for NPR. He reports on a wide array of subjects — from politics in Latin America and the Middle East, to the latest developments in sports and scientific research.