WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) â€” The U.S. created 227,000 new jobs in January to mark the biggest gain in four months, revealing an economy that still has plenty of vigor nearly eight years into a recovery that shows little sign of ending.
Economists polled by MarketWatch had predicted a 197,000 increase in new nonfarm jobs.
Retailers, construction firms, financial companies and restaurants led the way in hiring in January.
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The increase in new jobs last month, which includes the first 11 days of the new Trump administration, points to an economy that remains on a steady keel. Growth has averaged about 2% a year since 2010, fueled by a surge in hiring thatâ€™s reduced the unemployment rate near a nine-year low.
In premarket action, stocks appeared set to open higher. The Dow Jones industrial average DJIA, -0.03% has lost a few hundred points since last week after topping 20,000 for the first time.
The unemployment rate rose a notch to 4.8% last month, mostly because more people were looking for work. Job openings are near are record high and thatâ€™s drawing a larger share of Americans back into the labor force.
A tighter labor market is also forcing firms to pay more to workers, an emerging trend thatâ€™s likely to further underpin the recovery.
In January, hourly wages rose 0.1% to $26 an hour. Over the past 12 months wages have climbed 2.5% - faster than the less than 2% annual gains that prevailed through most of the recovery.
President Trump has vowed to make jobs the central focus of his White House and Republicans plan to offer a mix of tax cuts, reduced regulation and more spending on public works.
Many of those policies are still in the early works, though, and the effects wonâ€™t be felt for months. At the same time, some of the new administrationâ€™s policies such as tougher trade rules have made businesses anxious.