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Economic News Release

Commissioner's Statement on the Employment Situation News Release

Advance copies of this statement are made available to the press 
under lock-up conditions with the explicit understanding that 
the data are embargoed until 8:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

                            Statement of

                        William J. Wiatrowski
                         Acting Commissioner
                     Bureau of Labor Statistics

                      Friday, February 1, 2019

      Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 304,000 in 
January, and the unemployment rate edged up to 4.0 percent. Job 
gains occurred in a number of industries, including leisure and 
hospitality, construction, health care, and transportation and 

      Incorporating revisions for November and December, which 
decreased nonfarm payroll employment by 70,000, on net, monthly 
job gains averaged 241,000 over the past 3 months.
      Our evaluation of the establishment survey data indicates 
that there were no discernible impacts of the partial federal 
government shutdown on the January estimates of employment, 
hours, or earnings. Federal government employment was 
essentially unchanged over the month (+1,000). Federal employees 
on furlough during the shutdown were considered employed in the 
establishment survey because they worked or received pay (or 
will receive pay) for the survey's reference period, which is 
the pay period that includes the 12th of the month. It is likely 
that some private industries were affected by the shutdown; 
however, we are not able to quantify the impacts.
      Employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 74,000 
in January. Within the industry, food services and drinking 
places (+37,000) and amusements, gambling, and recreation 
(+32,000) added jobs. Over the year, leisure and hospitality 
added 410,000 jobs.
      Construction employment rose by 52,000 in January, with 
gains in specialty trade contractors (+34,000), heavy and civil 
engineering (+10,000), and residential building (+9,000). Over 
the year, construction employment increased by 338,000.
      Health care added 42,000 jobs in January. Within the 
industry, employment rose in ambulatory care services (+22,000) 
and hospitals (+19,000). Over the past 12 months, health care 
employment increased by 368,000.
      In January, employment in transportation and warehousing 
rose by 27,000, with gains in warehousing and storage (+15,000) 
and among couriers and messengers (+7,000). Over the year, 
transportation and warehousing added 219,000 jobs.
      Retail trade employment edged up by 21,000 in January. 
Sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores added jobs over 
the month (+17,000), while general merchandise stores lost jobs 
(-12,000). Overall, employment in retail trade has shown little 
net change over the year (+26,000).
      Mining employment rose by 7,000 in January and by 64,000 
over the year, mostly in support activities for mining.
      Employment continued to trend up in professional and 
business services in January (+30,000). Over the past 12 months, 
this industry has added 546,000 jobs.
      Manufacturing employment continued to trend up in January 
(+13,000). Durable goods added 20,000 jobs over the month, while 
employment in nondurable goods changed little (-7,000). Over the 
year, manufacturing employment has increased by 261,000, with 
more than four-fifths of the gain in durable goods industries.
      Employment in other major industries--including wholesale 
trade, information, and financial activities--showed little 
change over the month.
      Average hourly earnings of all employees on private nonfarm 
payrolls rose by 3 cents in January to $27.56, following a 10-
cent increase in December. Over the past 12 months, average 
hourly earnings have grown by 3.2 percent. From December 2017 to 
December 2018, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers 
(CPI-U) increased by 1.9 percent (on a seasonally adjusted 
      Turning to measures from the household survey, both the 
unemployment rate, at 4.0 percent, and the number of unemployed 
people, at 6.5 million, edged up in January. The impact of the 
partial federal government shutdown contributed to the uptick in 
these measures.
      The number of unemployed people on temporary layoff rose by 
175,000 in January; much of the increase occurred among federal 
government workers (discussed in more detail below).
      Among the unemployed, the number who had been searching for 
work for 27 weeks or longer, at 1.3 million, was little changed 
in January. These long-term unemployed accounted for 19.3 
percent of the total unemployed.
      The labor force participation rate, at 63.2 percent, 
changed little in January. The employment-population ratio, at 
60.7 percent, also changed little. Over the year, both measures 
were up by 0.5 percentage point.
      In January, 5.1 million people were working part time for 
economic reasons (also referred to as involuntary part-time 
workers), up by about one-half million from the prior month. 
Nearly all of this increase was in the private sector and may 
reflect the partial federal government shutdown.
      Among those neither working nor looking for work in 
January, 1.6 million were considered marginally attached to the 
labor force, little different from a year earlier. Discouraged 
workers, a subset of the marginally attached who believed no 
jobs were available for them, numbered 426,000 in January, also 
little different from a year earlier. (People who are marginally 
attached to the labor force had not looked for work in the 4 
weeks prior to the survey but wanted a job, were available to 
work, and had looked for a job within the last 12 months.)
      As noted above, unlike the establishment survey, some of 
the estimates from the household survey show the effects of the 
partial federal government shutdown. This is due to differences 
in the concepts and definitions used in the two surveys. In the 
household survey, workers who indicate that they were not 
working during the entire reference week due to a shutdown-
related furlough and expect to be recalled to their jobs should 
be classified as unemployed on temporary layoff, whether or not 
they are paid for the time they were off work. In January 2019, 
many furloughed federal employees were so classified, 
contributing to a rise in the overall number of people 
unemployed on temporary layoff. This mirrored the effect of the 
October 2013 partial federal government shutdown on the estimate 
of unemployed on temporary layoff.
      However, as with the October 2013 shutdown, some federal 
workers who were not at work during the entire January reference 
week were not classified as unemployed on temporary layoff. 
Instead, they were classified as employed but absent from work. 
Our review of the underlying data indicates that most of these 
workers should have been classified as unemployed on temporary 
layoff. This type of misclassification is an example of 
nonsampling error and can occur when respondents misunderstand 
questions or interviewers record answers incorrectly. As in 
2013, no ad hoc actions were taken to reassign survey responses; 
the data were accepted as recorded.
      If the federal workers who were recorded as employed but 
absent from work had been classified as unemployed on temporary 
layoff, the overall unemployment rate would have been slightly 
higher than reported. Additional information is available online 
      In January, there were routine adjustments to the data from 
our two surveys, following our usual annual practice. The 
establishment survey data released today reflect the 
incorporation of annual benchmark revisions. Each year, we re-
anchor our sample-based survey estimates to full universe counts 
of employment, primarily derived from the Quarterly Census of 
Employment and Wages, which counts jobs covered by the 
unemployment insurance tax system. The effect of these revisions 
on the underlying trend in nonfarm payroll employment was minor. 
(Additional information about the benchmark revision and its 
impact is contained in our news release and on our website at
      Household survey data for January reflect updated 
population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. Again this 
year, the impact of the new population controls on the 
unemployment rate and other ratios was negligible. (Further 
information can be found in our news release and on our website 
      In summary, nonfarm payroll employment increased by 304,000 
in January, and the unemployment rate edged up to 4.0 percent.

Last Modified Date: February 01, 2019