U.S. payrolls surge despite government shutdown

Payrolls swelled in the United States in January despite the longest federal government shutdown in history.

Nonfarm payrolls increased 304,000 and the unemployment rate edged up a tenth of a point to 4 percent, according to the latest Labor Department estimates.

The partial government shutdown affected estimates in different ways. Federal employees on furlough during the shutdown were counted as employed because they worked or will receive pay for the period when the establishment survey was conducted. However, those federal employees classified as unemployed in the household survey were counted among those on temporary layoffs.

January marked the 100th consecutive month of job growth in the U.S., the longest streak on record.

Estimated payroll gains for November were revised upward 20,000 to 196,000. But estimates for December were revised downward 90,000 to 222,000. Payrolls increased an average of 223,000 a month during 2018.

Still, 6.5 million people were counted among those unsuccessfully looking for work in January. Of those, 1.3 million have been out of work 27 weeks or longer. Another 5.1 million people were counted among those working part-time because their hours had been cut or they’ve been unable to find full-time positions.

Job gains in January were spread out among a number of industry sectors. Employment increased 74,000 in leisure and hospitality, 52,000 in construction,  42,000 in health care and 30,000 in professional and business services.

The average workweek held steady at 34.5 hours. The manufacturing workweek edged up a tenth of an hour to 40.8 hours.

Average hourly wages for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls rose 3 cents to $27.56. Over the past year, wages have increased 85 cents, or 3.2 percent.