PROTECTING SMALL BUSINESS, PROMOTING ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Outstanding Jobs Report for January: +304,000

By at 1 February, 2019, 11:00 am

by Raymond J. Keating-

The latest employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the jobs picture in the U.S. continues to be outstanding.

First, nonfarm payrolls, based on the establishment survey, grew by a robust 304,000. Employment growth registered across many industries, including professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, construction, health care, transportation and warehousing, and manufacturing.

Second, while the household survey underwent updates in the population, the month-to-month change between January and December (with appropriate adjustments for comparison purposes) showed the labor force increasing by 495,000 and employment up by 237,000. Again, these are strong gains. By the way, the household survey tends to better capture start-up and small business activity.

Third, the household survey provides us with some key data to assess the health of the employment market. The labor force participation rate in January improved to 63.2 percent. That climbed from 62.7 percent one year earlier, and was the highest level since September 2013. Obviously, workers re-entering the labor force is a welcome trend, and one of the avenues for helping to relieve at least some of the challenges for small businesses in terms of tight labor markets.

Fourth, along with the increase in the labor force participation rate, the employment-population ratio improved in January to 60.7 percent. That was the highest level in more than a decade, specifically since December 2008.

This an unequivocally good jobs report.

Looking ahead, key factors to keep things chugging along lie on the policy front. Specifically, Congress and the White House need to advance further tax and regulatory relief, while also shifting trade policy in a clear free trade direction. Coupled with the Fed bringing some normalcy back to monetary policy, this would be supportive of continued economic and employment growth.

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Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.

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