The U.S. economy added 313,000 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 30-percent increase from January's upwardly revised addition of 239,000 jobs, and marks a 56-percent increase from last February, when 200,000 jobs were created. This reading also significantly exceeds economists' expectations that 205,000 new jobs would be added last month.

Unemployment was unchanged for the fifth consecutive month in February, holding steady at an 18-year low of 4.1 percent. Economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal had predicted that the unemployment rate would fall to 4.0 percent last month, which would have marked the lowest rate of joblessness since December 2000.

Average hourly earnings for employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 4 cents in February to $26.75, a 68-cent, or 2.6-percent increase from a year prior. Wage growth is expected to pick up in coming months, which will relieve the modest wage growth seen in the first half of last year, despite a tighter labor market.

Although labor shortages continue to be a juggernaut for residential builders, overall construction industry employment continued to trend up in February with the addition of 61,000 positions to a total of 7,173,000 jobs. Employment in residential building construction increased by 6,800 positions in February to a total of 778,900, while nonresidential building construction jobs increased by 8,900 to 803,700 total positions. Employment in heavy and civil engineering construction increased by 7,500 to a total of 1,007,300 positions.

Employment in the manufacturing industry grew by 31,000 jobs in February, largely attributed to a gain of 32,000 jobs in durable goods industries.

Meanwhile, payrolls in architectural and engineering services added 5,600 jobs in February, reaching 1,465,200 positions. Employment in architectural and engineering services has been on the rise for 22 consecutive months, and February's seasonally adjusted figure is 2.6 percent higher than a year prior, when a total of 1,419,000 positions were reported.

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