On Friday, Feb. 4, 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its January employment report. Notably, total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 467,000.
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the coronavirus Omicron variant, this number of jobs added exceeded expectations from economists and public officials. Many experts had predicted a job increase closer to around 150,000 or, in some cases, even a decrease.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate remained relatively unchanged, increasing to 4% from 3.9% reported in December. According to the BLS, there are currently around 6.5 million unemployed individuals.
Earlier in January, a survey of small businesses from the Census Bureau found that the majority of respondents believed the pandemic has had a moderate or large negative effect on their businesses.
Additionally, around 6 million people reported they had been unable to work because their employer closed or lost business due to the pandemic, according to the BLS.
What This Means
This report shows that total employment continues its trend of gradually increasing. While still down from its pre-pandemic levels, the number of jobs has increased by 19.1 million since April 2020.
The increase in jobs shows that employers have been more successful than expected in filling open positions to start off the year. However, competition to find available workers remains, and labor challenges are largely expected to continue into 2022.
Employers should continue to monitor employment trends to stay informed on the ever-changing labor market.