The U.S. economy added 200,000 jobs in January, according to the monthly employment report released today by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This seasonally adjusted figure is a 25 percent increase from December's upwardly revised addition of 160,000 jobs, and marks a 22-percent decrease over the previous January, when 259,000 jobs were created. January's addition of 200,000 jobs exceeded economists' expectations of 177,000, and exceeds the average 192,000 jobs added over the past three months.

Unemployment was unchanged for the fourth consecutive month in January, holding steady at an 18-year low of 4.1 percent. According to the Wall Street Journal, Federal Reserve officials' have been "watching for signs of building wage and price pressures," as a falling unemployment rate could reinforce expectations that an ever-tighter labor market will boost inflation.

Average hourly earnings for employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 9 cents in January to $26.74. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings for private nonfarm payrolls have increased by 75 cents, or 2.9 percent. Wage growth is expected to pick up in coming months, which will relieve the modest wage growth seen in the first half of 2017 despite a tighter labor market.

The construction industry has added 226,000 jobs over the past 12 months, but labor shortages continue to be a juggernaut for residential builders. In January, construction industry employment continued to trend up, with the addition of 36,000 positions to a total of 7,099,000 jobs. Employment in residential building construction increased by 5,100 positions in January to a total of 772,000, while nonresidential building construction jobs decreased by 2,300 to 794,200 total positions. After three consecutive months of decline, employment in heavy and civil engineering construction increased by 6,300 to a total of 993,400 positions.

Employment in the manufacturing industry grew by 15,000 jobs in January, largely attributed to a gain of 18,000 jobs in durable goods industries.

Meanwhile, payrolls in architectural and engineering services added 3,900 jobs in January, reaching 1,458,900 positions. Employment in architectural and engineering services has been on the rise for 21 consecutive months, and January's seasonally adjusted figure is 3 percent higher compared to a year prior, when a total of 1,417,000 positions were reported.

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