US Jobless Rate Unexpectedly Rises to 4%


The US unemployment rate rose to 4 percent in January 2019 from 3.9 percent in the previous month and slightly above market expectations of 3.9 percent. The number of unemployed increased by 241 thousand to 6.54 million while employment fell by 251 thousand to 156.69 million, following the 35-day partial government shutdown.

The impact of the partial federal government shutdown contributed to the uptick in both the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons. Among the unemployed, the number who reported being on temporary layoff increased by 175,000. This figure includes furloughed federal employees who were classified as unemployed on temporary layoff under the definitions used in the household survey.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for Hispanics increased to 4.9 percent in January. The jobless rates for adult men (3.7 percent), adult
women (3.6 percent), teenagers (12.9 percent), Whites (3.5 percent), Blacks (6.8 percent), and Asians (3.1 percent) showed little change over the month.

In January, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 1.3 million and accounted for 19.3 percent of the unemployed.

The labor force participation rate, at 63.2 percent, and the employment-population ratio, at 60.7 percent, changed little over the month; both measures were up by 0.5 percentage point over the year.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) increased by about one-half million to 5.1 million in January. Nearly all of this increase occurred in the private sector and may reflect the impact of the partial federal government shutdown. (Persons employed part time for economic reasons would have preferred full-time employment but were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs.)

In January, 1.6 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, essentially unchanged from a year earlier. (Data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

Among the marginally attached, there were 426,000 discouraged workers in January, little different than a year earlier. (Data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.2 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in January had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

US Jobless Rate Unexpectedly Rises to 4%


BLS | Joana Ferreira | joana.ferreira@tradingeconomics.com
2/1/2019 1:48:10 PM