U.S. Hiring Surges With January Gain of 517,000 Jobs

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Other recent measures were also offering reasons to believe the economy was coming off its rolling boil. Consumer spending fell at the end of last year, a sign that Americans were finally becoming more cautious in the face of rising prices, dwindling savings and fears of recession. And the housing market appeared to be slowing down, as high mortgage rates were making purchases too expensive for many would-be homeowners, though there has been some recent easing.

Inflation F.A.Q.

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What is inflation? Inflation is a loss of purchasing power over time, meaning your dollar will not go as far tomorrow as it did today. It is typically expressed as the annual change in prices for everyday goods and services such as food, furniture, apparel, transportation and toys.

What causes inflation? It can be the result of rising consumer demand. But inflation can also rise and fall based on developments that have little to do with economic conditions, such as limited oil production and supply chain problems.

Is inflation bad? It depends on the circumstances. Fast price increases spell trouble, but moderate price gains can lead to higher wages and job growth.

Can inflation affect the stock market? Rapid inflation typically spells trouble for stocks. Financial assets in general have historically fared badly during inflation booms, while tangible assets like houses have held their value better.

January’s hiring figures suggest that officials may have more work to do to reduce the labor market’s momentum and bring the economy more into balance.

The report showed that job gains were broad, touching even some industries that had been expected to slow as the Fed’s rate increases filtered through the labor market. Leading the charge were leisure and hospitality businesses, including restaurants, bars and hotels, which added 128,000 jobs, and health care, which added 58,000 — both sectors that were upended during the pandemic. Professional and business services also ramped up their hiring.

There was a substantial jump in government employment, too, though that was partly because striking workers at the University of California returned to work.

The information sector lost 5,000 jobs. But even that was a relative blip given the recent headline-grabbing layoffs at technology giants such as Microsoft and Google’s parent company, Alphabet.

“I would definitely say at the end of 2022, there was a slowdown in some industries,” said Nicola Hancock, managing director for the Americas region at AMS, a talent acquisition and advisory firm. But she added, “All of our clients are still hiring.” AMS works with blue-chip companies in industries including banking, financial services, technology and pharmaceuticals.

Further complicating the narrative, some emerging trends in the job market that had hinted at an impending economic slowdown appeared to backtrack. The number of hours worked rose, including in manufacturing and construction. And jobs in temporary help services, which tend to fall amid economic uncertainty, rose by 26,000 after months of declines.