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U.S. Jobs: January Numbers Are Encouraging

Employment continues to trend upwards.The bottom line is that most economists seem to expect continuing wage increases in 2018, enough so that inflation might actually reach or even exceed the Fed’s 2.0% target for the first time since the Great Recession of 2008-2009. We’ll just have to see about that!


A Closer Look at Job Gains


Jumping back to the U.S. BLS report, here’s what they have to say about the job increases. Construction’s 36,000 new jobs for the month came mostly from specialty trade contractors (+26,000). Residential construction added another 5,000 to that total, with the remaining 5,000 spread across other construction niches. That’s about double the 12-month trailing average of 19,000 jobs per month.


Food services, which the report labels as “employment in food services and drinking places” added 31,000 jobs in January. Here, that’s about 10,000 jobs higher than the 12-month-trailing average of 21,000 jobs per month. Health care added 21,000 jobs in January, of which 13,000 came from hospitals. That’s 3,000 less than the 12-month trailing average of 24,000.


Manufacturing’s gains were all in durable goods, at 18,000 jobs. This compares to the twelve-month trailing average of 15,500, for a slight gain in the 2-3,000 range. Overall, though, we see more gainers than winners, even among all sectors currently showing noticeable job gains. Remaining sectors continue to hold steady.


Overall, I still believe the Reuters take is a bit over the top. That said, closer inspection of the news shows very few negatives and a lot of positives, so we can all agree that improvement continues. With job growth holding firm at the higher end of the range and wage growth forecasts positive and believable, it could be that 2018 will be the year we turn the proverbial economic corner.


It may not yet be time to party, but it might be OK to start a bit of cautious party planning. Time will tell, as it always does.



ed-tittel120Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran who's worked as a software developer, technical marketer, consultant, author, and researcher. Author of many books and articles, Ed blogs on certification topics for Tom’s IT Pro, and on Windows desktop OS topics for TechTarget. Check out his website at