The U.S. economy kicked off the new year with robust job gains in January. The latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that employers expanded payrolls by 353,000 last month. That figure far outpaces economists’ expectations of about 175,000 new jobs. The January jobs report also notes that employers added 126,000 more jobs than previously reported in November and December combined. 
The education and health services industry saw significant payroll expansion last month, with employers adding 112,000 jobs. The professional and businesses services industry was a leader in job creation in January as well. The BLS reports that employers in this sector added 74,000 jobs, including 3,900 in temporary help services. Employers in the retail trade industry helped to fuel job growth last month by adding 45,200 jobs. These industries also saw employers expanding their payrolls in January: Government: 36,000 jobs added Manufacturing: 23,000 jobs added Transportation and warehousing: 15,500 jobs added Information: 15,000 jobs added Construction: 11,000 jobs added Leisure and hospitality: 11,000 jobs added Financial activities: 8,000 jobs added
The latest jobs report from the BLS shows that the national unemployment rate was 3.7% in January. That is the same rate reported in both December and November. The unemployment rate for college-degreed workers — the professionals most highly sought-after by employers — was 2.1% last month. The rate for this group of workers has held steady since October. 
Despite the strong pace of hiring in January, many employers are struggling to hire talent for open roles. Separate data from the BLS shows that there were 9 million job openings in the United States as of the last day of December, up from about 8.8 million in November. The level of job openings in the U.S. continues to trend above historic — and pre-pandemic — levels, indicating that there is pent-up demand for skilled talent. Many businesses also face challenges in the pace of hiring: In a recent Robert Half survey, 58% of employers said it takes them longer to hire for open roles compared with one year ago. While the number of workers quitting their jobs has been on a downward trend for months, many professionals are still keeping their options open. Recent research from Robert Half found that 36% of workers are planning to look for a new job soon. Workers who feel less inclined to pursue a job search right now tell us they are staying put for various reasons. About half (48%) of these workers said they don’t want to give up the flexibility that their current job provides. And 42% reported that they feel fulfilled in their current position. Notably, only 37% of workers said they weren’t seeking a new job because they feel well-compensated in their role.
The 2024 Salary Guide From Robert Half features exclusive data and input from employers and workers, and from our recruiters who staff tens of thousands of jobs each year. Our guide is designed to be a go-to resource on the latest hiring and compensation trends for both employers and job seekers. And you can view it right now, for free, on the Robert Half website. Read the 2024 Salary Guide
Check out this video featuring Robert Half Operational President Dawn Fay for further analysis of the January 2024 jobs report, and tips for employers and candidates navigating the current labor market. WATCH VIDEO NOW