In light of an influx of omicron infections, U.S. employers added 467,000 jobs in January, surprising experts who predicted only a slight increase in job additions. In the retail trade, employment rose by 61,000, with building and garden supply stores adding 6,000 workers in January.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported that the employment rate stayed steady, increasing to 4 percent, up from 3.9 percent in December. The unemployment rate is down 2.4 percentage points over the year. The number of unemployed remained at 6.5 million, declining by 3.7 million in 2021. The employment rate in February 2020, before the pandemic hit, was 3.5 percent.
The number of long-term unemployed people, anyone jobless for 27 weeks or more, dropped to 1.7 million, down 4 million from January 2021.
While it may not have affected January jobs, omicron did cause disruptions for many workers, with more than 3.6 million Americans, or 2 percent of the entire workforce, taking time off from work because of illness in January.
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