By Jeff Cox, CNBC–
Nonfarm payrolls grew by 200,000 in January and the unemployment rate was 4.1 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said in a closely watched report from Friday.
Economists surveyed by Reuters had been expecting jobs growth of 180,000 and an unemployment rate of 4.1 percent. A broader measure of unemployment that includes discouraged workers and those holding part-time jobs for economic reasons edged higher to 8.2 percent, the highest level since September.
In addition to the solid payroll growth, average hourly earnings were up 0.3 percent for the month, matching estimates and reflecting an annualized gain of 2.9 percent. However, the average work week fell two-tenths to 34.3 hours.
Markets were unimpressed with the report, with stock futures continuing to point to a sharply lower open on Wall Street and bond yields rising.
The numbers come amid an expected acceleration in growth for the U.S. economy. The Atlanta Federal Reserve is expecting a GDP gain of 5.4 percent in the first quarter, which would be the best increase since the recovery began in mid-2009.
Within the jobs report, Wall Street and policymakers are watching wage numbers closely. While job gains have been solid and consistent, salary growth has been elusive. This report could change the narrative and might push the Fed to get more aggressive with interest rate hikes.
The report comes after a disappointing 160,000 in December (revised up from 148,000) and two days after ADP said private payrolls increased by 234,000. The November gain of 252,000 was cut from 252,000 to 216,000, making the net from the two revisions minus-24,000.
The household survey showed an even bigger gain in employment, with a gain of 409,000. The rolls of the unemployed grew by 108,000.
Construction reported by the biggest gain by sector with 36,000. Bars and restaurants added 31,000 and health care was up 21,000. Manufacturing also showed a gain of 15,000 and durable goods-related industries added 18,000.