January job report: 517,000 new jobs added, unemployment rate lowest since 1969

The American labor market added 517,000 new jobs and the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since 1969 according to the January jobs report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Up 5.5% from 260,000 in December, the increase in available jobs in the face of rising interest rates, surprised consumers and economists alike. The number of unemployed persons in the U.S. fell to 1.9 million. The report is based on data collected from businesses and consumers.

The Federal Reserve Board raised interest rates by an additional quarter percent on Wednesday, the 8th rate hike in the last year.

Most of the January job growth occurred in the leisure and hospitality industries, professional and business services as well as healthcare.

The labor force participation and the employment-population ratio–a figure which measures how efficiently an economy provides jobs for people who want to work–have remained steady at 62.4% and 60.2.

There are now 11 million available jobs, or 1.9 per available unemployed worker, for 5.7 million unemployed persons across the nation.

The high number of jobs available compared to available workers speaks to the competition among employers seeking employees which is driving up wages and contributing to inflation.

Warnings from the Federal Reserve have said that if employers continue to compete for a relatively low amount of available workers by raising wages, inflation may continue to rise.

Officials reacted positively to wage growth slowing slightly compared to December, but it is still rising faster than it typically would.

Fed officials have been hoping to see a slow down in hiring that has not come, which they say would slow inflation.

The number of people who are not currently employed seeking employment stayed mostly consistent from December to January, hovering at 5.3 million.