By Isaac Cohen*
After five years of slow recovery, the US job market is expanding at a robust pace. At an average monthly rate of around 250,000, job creation in 2014 was the highest since 1999. Figures released last Friday by the Labor Department indicated more than a million jobs were created between November and January, the best three months of job creation since 1997. Even hourly wages, after falling in December, increased 12 cents to $24.75 in January, or 0.5 percent, an improvement of 2.2 percent over the past year.
With the exception of government and the energy sector, which lost 10,000 and 1,900 jobs, respectively, all economic sectors registered improvements in hiring in January. Construction leading with 39,000, healthcare 38,300, restaurant and food services 35,000 and manufacturing 22,000.
President Barack Obama in a speech the same Friday, in Indianapolis, hailed “the longest streak of private sector growth.” However, some analysts saw the vigorous job growth figures as the signal waited by the central bank to start the anticipated liftoff in interest rates.
Not yet, said Harvard Professor Lawrence Summers and former advisor to President Barack Obama. In a Washington Post op-ed column, Professor Summers concluded “the available inflation data suggest little cause for concern.”
*International analyst and consultant. Commentator on economic and financial issues for CNN en Español TV and radio. Former Director, UNECLAC.