*According to the Labor Department’s January jobs report, hiring jumped last month as U.S. employers added a robust 225,000 jobs, bolstering an economy that faces threats from China’s viral outbreak, an ongoing trade war and struggles at Boeing.
The Labor Department also said Friday that a half-million people streamed into the job market in January, though not all of them found jobs. That influx meant that more people were counted as unemployed, and it boosted the jobless rate to 3.6% from a half-century low of 3.5% in December.
The government’s monthly jobs report signaled that businesses remain confident enough to keep hiring, with the pace of job growth accelerating from a year ago. Solid consumer spending is offsetting drags from the trade war and declining business investment.
The job gains also give President Donald Trump more evidence for his argument that the economy is flourishing under his watch. The Democratic contenders vying to oppose him, who will debate Friday night in New Hampshire, have embraced a counter-argument: That the economy’s benefits are flowing disproportionately to the richest Americans.
Despite the brisk pace of hiring in January, hourly pay is up just 3.1% from a year earlier, below a peak of 3.5% last fall, though still above the inflation rate.
The public’s confidence that jobs are plentiful is helping persuade more people without jobs to begin looking for one. Last month, 61.2% of American adults had jobs, the highest proportion since November 2008.