US non-farm payroll growth falls way below expectations - but wage growth strengthens

Emma Haslett
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The figure was way below analysts' expectations (Source: Getty)

The US added 151,000 jobs in January, figures showed today, falling way short of expectations of 190,000.

There was some good news: wage growth was higher than expected, rising 2.5 per cent, against forecasts of 2.2 per cent. And unemployment fell to 4.9 per cent - an eight-year low.

It's the first time non-farm payroll figures have missed expectations in several months. The December figure was 292,000, smashing expectations of 200,000.

November's equally encouraging figure was used by many as justification for the US Federal Reserve's decision to increase interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade.

"That move is now coming under greater scrutiny as financial markets wobble, central banks in Japan and Europe openly discuss loosening monetary policy rather than tightening it and economic data deteriorates," pointed out Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

However, some analysts chose to interpret the data as positive.

"The silver lining for the Fed was in the average hourly number which has shown even more strength... something for President Obama to be even proud of before he leaves office," said Avatrade's Naeem Aslam.

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