UPDATE, 9 AM PT: President Joe Biden seized on the unexpectedly good news from January’s employment report by putting it into the larger context of 6.6 million jobs added in the past year.
“You can’t remember a year where so many people went to work,” Biden said in remarks from the White House. “There’s a reason. It’s never happened.”
The White House has been trying to bridge the disconnect between the reality of a robust economy and public sentiment. The latter is due in part to worries over the rate of inflation.
In his remarks, Biden signaled that the administration would be advocating for Congress to address industry consolidation, as the president connected the increasing cost of hamburgers to the concentration of the meat packing industry. Lawmakers have been championing an array of different antitrust proposals, but none of the bills have made it to the floor of the House or the Senate.
PREVIOUSLY: The U.S. economy added 467,000 jobs in January, exceeding expectations that the latest report would sow lackluster gains amid the Omicron variant.
The unemployment rate ticked slightly upward to 4%.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported growth in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services and transportation and warehousing.
President Joe Biden is scheduled to make a statement on the latest numbers on Friday morning.
Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics, wrote on Twitter, “Wow, the jobs numbers for January were great. Despite millions out sick with Omicron, employers added close to 500k. That’s close to the average monthly gain for the past year.”
He noted that even though the unemployment rate ticked up, it was because there was a big gain in labor force participation.
“Still need more people to get back to work, but they are coming,” he wrote.
The Department of Labor also revised figures from previous months. The December jobs number, initially reported as 199,000, instead was raised to 510,000.
Jason Furman, professor at Harvard and former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama, wrote, “January 2022 will be remembered as the month the virus ceased to be boss. It wreaked havoc & death at a terrible scale. But the economy no longer cares. People returned to the workforce. The economy added jobs. Wages rose. You would barely know it happened from the economic data.”
More to come.
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