New year brings new gains in U.S. payrolls

The new year is off to a better than expected start for job growth with an estimated addition of nearly 260,000 positions to U.S. payrolls in January.

The national unemployment rate edged up a tenth of a point to 5.7 percent as more than 700,000 people returned to the work force to look for or take jobs.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nonfarm employment increased 257,000 in January with gains spread across industry sectors.

Initial estimates for job gains in December and November were revised upward a total of 147,000 to a combined 752,000. With the latest numbers, U.S. payrolls have increased an average of  336,000 over the past three months.

Still, 2.8 million people were counted in January among the long-term unemployed who’ve been out of work 27 weeks or longer. Another 6.8 million people were counted among those working part-time because their hours have been cut or they’re unable to find full-time jobs.

With an increase of 703,000 in the civilian labor force, the labor participation rate rose two-tenths of a point to 62.9 percent.

Employment in retail trades increased 46,000 in January, while construction payrolls rose 39,000. Health care employment climbed 38,000 even as food services and drinking places added 35,000 jobs. Payrolls increased 33,000 in professional and business services and 26,000 in financial activities.

The average workweek for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls remained unchanged at 34.6 hours. The average manufacturing workweek edged up a tenth of an hour to 41 hours.

Average hourly earnings for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls rose 12 cents to  $24.75. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have increased 2.2 percent.