US employers add a strong 225K jobs; unemployment up to 3.6%

WASHINGTON — Hiring jumped at the beginning of the year as U.S. employers added 225,000 jobs, bolstering an economy that faces threats from China’s viral outbreak, an ongoing trade war and struggles at Boeing.

The Labor Department also said Friday that a half-million people streamed into the job market in January, though not all of them found jobs. That boosted the unemployment rate to 3.6%, from a half-century low of 3.5% in December.

The report suggested that businesses remain confident in the economy, with job gains accelerating from a year ago. Solid consumer spending is offsetting drags from the trade war and declining business investment.

Unusually warm weather also likely played a role in strengthening job gains, with construction companies adding 44,000 jobs in January, the most since last year. Better winter weather allows more construction projects to proceed.

The government also issued its annual revisions, which showed that job growth was slower in 2018 and early last year than previously estimated. Employers added 2.3 million jobs in 2018, down from a previous figure of 2.7 million.