- The US added over half a million jobs and unemployment fell in January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- It’s a big surprise, well above estimates, and shows how strong the labor market continues to be.
- The unemployment rate is now at its lowest since 1969, easing fears of a potential downturn.
The American labor market continues to be full of surprises. Look no further than January when, even as layoffs mounted in media and big tech and Americans stayed sour about economic prospects, the country still added over half a million jobs — well above the 185,000 payrolls that economists surveyed by Bloomberg estimated.
Indeed, hiring was booming so much that the unemployment rate fell to 3.4%. That’s the lowest rate since 1969.
That’s right: The US hasn’t seen an unemployment rate this low since the moon landing. Attendees at Woodstock experienced a labor market this tight; now, Americans scrambling for Beyoncé tickets are in a similar position.
The data comes on the heels of several other economic indicators that show while fears of an economic downturn are abundant , they’re nowhere to be found in the numbers. The gross domestic product, or GDP, grew 2.9% in the fourth quarter of 2022. Inflation has cooled down, and might be cooling even faster than it seems.
At the same time, the latest data on job openings, quitting, and layoffs shows that the Great Resignation is still in full swing. Employers posted even more job openings in December, with 11 million positions open, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s about two job openings per unemployed person.
And workers felt comfortable leaving their jobs and snagging those new ones, with 4.1 million Americans quitting yet again in December. Meanwhile, the layoff rate stayed low, sliding up a tad from November.
To be sure, the thousands of tech workers swept up in recent layoffs probably aren’t feeling as rosy. It’s another paradox of the labor market, which, by all accounts, is still red-hot. Even with those thousands of layoffs, though, there are plenty of firms ready and willing to hire — and that’s exactly what they did in January.