Picking up steam, US firms add 174,000 jobs in January

The US labour market picked up steam in January as US companies added 174,000 jobs in a month, the ADP Research Institute said on Wednesday.

US economy jobs opening
January's spike in payrolls is a stark improvement over December, when United States firms shed 78,000 jobs, according to ADP [File: Elaine Thompson/AP]

Good news from the United States labour market surfaced on Wednesday.

US firms added 174,000 jobs last month, the latest ADP National Employment Report showed. That’s a stark improvement over December, when firms shed 78,000 positions from their payrolls, according to ADP’s revised estimates.

The January rebound signals that after surging COVID-19 infections and business-gutting restrictions designed to contain them at the close of 2020 put a chill on jobs creation, the nation’s labour market is back on the road to recovery.

“The labor market continues its slow recovery amid COVID-19 headwinds,” Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute, said in a statement.

The ADP report, a collaboration between the ADP Research Institute and Moody’s Analytics, is seen as a harbinger for the US Department of Labor’s closely watched monthly employment report due out on Friday.

By sector, education and health firms saw the biggest gains with 54,000 workers added to payrolls. Information was the biggest loser, shedding 2,000 jobs.

Measured by company size, small firms employing fewer than 50 people added 51,000 jobs last month while midsized firms with fewer than 500 employees contributed the lion’s share of gains with 84,000 positions added to payrolls.

Large firms with 500 or more employees added 39,000 jobs.

“Although job losses were previously concentrated among small and midsized businesses, we are now seeing signs of the prolonged impact of the pandemic on large companies as well,” said Yildirmaz.

Myriad economic indicators pointed to a stalling recovery in December. The US economy lost 140,000 jobs in the final month of 2020, retail sales declined for the third straight month and consumer spending – the engine of the US economy – fell for the second consecutive month.

But many economists see renewed strength on the horizon with another round of federal coronavirus relief aid passed in late December supporting consumer spending during the winter and a new stimulus package being hashed out by Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

President Joe Biden has proposed a massive $1.9 trillion stimulus package that includes more funding for the nationwide vaccine drive, financial help for state and local governments, additional direct cash payments to struggling households, and an increase in the federal weekly top-up to state jobless benefits.

Political horse-trading could chip away at the size and scope of Biden’s proposed stimulus.

But on Tuesday, Democrats in the Senate are inching towards fast-tracking Biden’s stimulus package without the backing of Republicans.

Source: Al Jazeera