U.S. employers shrugged off last month’s partial government shutdown and engaged in a burst of hiring in January, adding 304,000 jobs, the most in nearly a year.
The healthy gain the government reported Friday illustrated the job market’s durability nearly a decade into the economic expansion. The U.S. has now added jobs for 100 straight months, the longest such period on record.
The unemployment rate did rise in January to 4 percent from 3.9 percent, but mostly for a technical reason: Roughly 175,000 federal workers were counted as temporarily unemployed last month because of the shutdown.
Shocking Hillary Document Exposed to World [sponsored]
The government on Friday also sharply revised down its estimate of job growth in December, to 222,000 from a previously estimated 312,000. Still, hiring has accelerated since last summer, a development that has surprised economists because hiring typically slows when unemployment is so low.
The ongoing demand for workers is leading some businesses to offer higher pay to attract and keep staff. Average hourly wages rose 3.2 percent in January from a year earlier.
That’s just below the annual gain of 3.3 percent in December, which matched October and November for the fastest increase since April 2009.
The strong job market is also encouraging more people who weren’t working to begin looking. The proportion of Americans who either have a job or are seeking one — which had been unusually low since the recession ended a decade ago — reached 63.2 percent in January, the highest level in more than five years.
The 35-day government shutdown caused 800,000 workers to miss two paychecks. But because these workers will eventually receive back pay, they were counted as employed in the survey of businesses that produces the monthly job gain.
But in a separate survey of households that’s used to calculate the unemployment rate, many of these people were counted as temporarily jobless. That’s a key reason why the unemployment rate rose despite the healthy job gain.
Most economists have forecast that the shutdown will likely slow economic growth for the first three months of this year. But some say that even businesses that lost income from the shutdown likely held onto their staffs, knowing that the shutdown would only be temporary.
Sponsored: 90-year-olds becoming 30-year-olds
Friday’s solid jobs report provided a dose of reassurance that the economy remains mostly healthy and likely to shake off any effects of the shutdown. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the shutdown slowed annual growth for the January-March quarter by about 0.4 percentage point, to a rate of 2.1 percent, though that loss should lead to a bounce-back later this year.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.