New year, same story: America continued its solid job growth in January.
The U.S. economy added 257,000 jobs in January, adding to the gains from last year, which was the best for job growth since 1999.
The official unemployment rate ticked up to 5.7%, a notch higher than December. Economists surveyed by CNNMoney predicted 229,000 jobs would be created in January and an unemployment rate of 5.5%. Don’t worry too much about the higher unemployment rate. It’s actually a positive, experts say.
“The labor market recovery is finally hitting its stride,” says Gus Faucher, senior economist at PNC Bank.
More people are looking for work now as they see others get employment. Faucher believes the higher unemployment rate “is good news. That’s a sign of confidence in the job market.”
The optimism doesn’t stop there. There were huge upward revisions to the job gains in November and December. The economy added about an extra 150,000 jobs in those two months combined, according to the Labor Department.
“American companies are on a hiring binge,” says Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.
Headwinds ahead: January’s job news was a reprieve from the economy’s rocky start to 2015. The S&P 500 (SPX)and Dow (DIA)fell 3% as the strong U.S. dollar is starting to hurt American businesses selling products overseas. There is growing concern that the dollar’s pressure could hurt sales abroad so much that it could eventually cause layoffs in U.S. later this year.
Some of America’s largest employers, like Microsoft and Procter & Gamble, signaled that the dollar may hurt their business this year. Unfortunately, the dollar is not the only concern for the job market.