The numbers: The U.S. created a robust 225,000 new jobs in January to get off to a good start in 2020, reflecting surprising resilience in the labor market even though manufacturing has contracted and the economy has softened.
The economy has added an average of 211,000 new jobs in the past three months, a marked acceleration from last fall and summer. Unseasonably warm weather in January likely gave hiring an added boost.
The unemployment rate, meanwhile, edged up to 3.6% from a 50-year low of 3.5% as more people entered the labor force in search of work. The rate tends to rise if not all the new entrants find jobs right away, but it is considered a sign of a strong labor market.
An ultratight labor market has put more upward pressure on wages, though paychecks are still not growing as fast as they usually do when unemployment is so low. The increase in worker pay over the past 12 months rose slightly to 3.1%, but it sits below the postrecession peak of 3.5%.
The U.S. stock market fell in Friday trades after several days of big gains. The increase in new jobs easily surpassed the 164,000 forecast of economists surveyed by MarketWatch.