Unemployment rate little changed in January


The Boston Globe | By Christpher S. Rugaber
February 3, 2017

WASHINGTON — U.S. employers stepped up hiring last month, adding a healthy 227,000 jobs, and more Americans began looking for work, a sign that President Donald Trump has inherited a robust job market.

January’s job gain was the best since September and exceeded last year’s average monthly gain of 187,000, the Labor Department reported Friday.

The unemployment rate ticked up to a still-low 4.8 percent last month from 4.7 percent in December. But the rate rose for a mostly good reason: More Americans started looking for work, though not all of them immediately found jobs. The percentage of adults working or looking for jobs reached its highest level since September.

Yet some of the economy’s weak spots remain: Average hourly wages barely increased last month. And the number of people working part time who would prefer full-time work rose.

January’s jobs figures reflect hiring that occurred mainly before Trump was inaugurated on Jan. 20. Still, it was the first employment report to be released with Trump occupying the White House, and he seems sure to take a close interest in it.

As a candidate, Trump frequently argued that the government’s jobs data exaggerated the health of the economy. He called the unemployment rate a ‘‘hoax’’ and said it declined after the recession under President Barack Obama mainly because many Americans stopped working or looking for work.

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