January Jobs Report: Behind the Top Lines

The BLS jobs report for January came in with a stronger-than-expected net job gain of 257,000 and slightly improved workforce participation rates, which probably will offset in perceptions the tiny uptick (from 5.6% to 5.7%) in the official unemployment rate.

But secondary stats may be the ones to focus on today. For one thing, the already-impressive job gains for November and December were revised upward by another 147,000. This makes 2014 the best year for job growth since 1999. And even wage rates–long the shadow over the economic recovery–ticked up in January.

As last January’s poor and weather-related numbers attested, this is a tricky month for economists, with major seasonal adjustments. But it’s hard to fine anything wrong with the latest jobs report unless you are focused on the Fed raising interest rates to head off hypothetical future inflation.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.