American nonfarm employers added 257,000 jobs to their payrolls in January. That comes in above economists' consensus estimates, which had been at around 230,000.
But even that modest overperformance masks that this was really, all-around, just a great jobs report. Here's a rundown of the other encouraging news:
- The unemployment rate ticked up to 5.7 percent from December's 5.6 percent. That might not sound great, but it was, in part, for good reasons. While the number of unemployed picked up slightly from December, the labor force participation rate — the share of people working or looking for work — jumped to 62.9 percent. Because the jobless rate only counts people who are actively looking for work, this is one of those cases where a higher unemployment rate is a good thing.
- Average hourly earnings picked up by 12 cents per hour last month, a huge bump after December's troubling five-cent decline. That signals that the labor force is tightening and that labor market slack is finally diminishing.
- More great news on earnings: that 12-cent bump was the biggest since June 2007.
- We didn't add a strong 252,000 jobs in December; revisions show that we in fact added a blistering 329,000.
- It gets even better: in November, the change in payroll employment was bumped from an already-huge 353,000 to a bonkers 423,000.
- Benchmark revisions found that there were 91,000 more jobs created in 2014 than previously estimated.
- The 1990s are back: the last few months have been the best for job growth in 17 years, as Bloomberg's Max Abelson pointed out.
- The number of people working part-time for economic reasons — that is, because they couldn't find full-time jobs — is down by more than 460,000 since last January.
Correction: This story originally listed Max Abelson as writing for the Wall Street Journal.