The good news is that the U.S. economy added 257,000 jobs in January, accompanied by a rise in wages and the more than 700,000 Americans who had given up on finding a job resuming their search. That increased number of job seekers had a slight negative effect on the jobless numbers, raising the unemployment rate from 5.6 percent to 5.7 percent.
The increase in job creation over the last three months has been driven largely by a rise in consumer confidence in the economy, leading to an increase in spending which, in turn, has led to job creation.
“The labor market was about the last thing to recover from the Great Recession, and in the last six months it has picked up steam,” said said Bill Hampel, chief economist for the Credit Union National Association.
The rise in average wages was by 12 cents, to $24.75, and partially driven by an increase in the minimum wage in 20 states, which took effect at the beginning of the year. That increase represents a 0.5 percent rise, the largest monthly increase since 2008. The increase for the entire year is 2.2 percent, well above the rate of inflation which rose 0.8 percent.
Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, has predicted that the Federal Reserve will raise the short-term interest rate by June in response to the growth in jobs and pay from historic lows.
The bad news is that the new GOP controlled congress has already gone to work to kill the recovery that has finally begun to be felt by the middle class and working poor.
One of the first orders of business in the 114th congress was to pass the Keystone XL Pipeline Act which they claim will create tens of thousands of jobs while making the U.S. energy independent.
At the same time they refused to include provisions that would keep that oil in the U.S. and that would require that the steel and iron used in construction be made in the U.S.
The State Department has said that the pipeline would create only 5,000 to 6,000 jobs for three years while the pipeline is constructed and the Natural Resources Defense Council has predicted that the pipeline would result in 100 permanent jobs at most.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and House Republicans have introduced separate “right to work” bills which would amend the National Labor Relations Act to prohibit employers from entering into contracts which require an employee to join or pay dues to a union.
The GOP has already passed three other deregulation bills favoring business as well which the president has promised to veto.
h/t: Huffington Post