Payrolls rose far more than expected in January despite surging omicron cases that seemingly sent millions of workers to the sidelines, the Labor Department reported Friday.
Nonfarm payrolls surged by 467,000 for the month, while the unemployment rate edged higher to 4%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Dow Jones estimate was for payroll growth of 150,000 and a 3.9% unemployment rate.
The stunning gain came a week after the White House warned that the numbers could be low due to the pandemic.
Covid cases, however, have plunged nationally in recent weeks, with the seven-day moving average down more than 50% since peaking in mid-January, according to the CDC. Most economists, while expecting January’s number to be weak, see a further rebound coming in the months ahead.
Along with the big upside surprise for January, massive revisions sent previous months considerably higher.
December, which was initially reported as a gain of 199,000, went up to 510,000. November surged to 647,000 from the previously reported 249,000. For the two months alone, the initial counts were revised up by 709,000. The revisions came as part of the annual adjustments from the BLS that saw sizeable changes for many of the months in 2021.
For January, the biggest employment gains came in leisure and hospitality, which saw 151,000 hires, 108,000 of which came from bars and restaurants. Professional and business services contributed 86,000, while retail was up 61,000.
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