Saturday, January 20, 2018
Business

Trump inherits robust job market as U.S. adds 227,000; unemployment rate up to 4.8 percent

WASHINGTON — U.S. employers stepped up hiring last month, adding a healthy 227,000 jobs, and more Americans began looking for work, a sign that President Donald Trump has inherited a robust job market.

January's job gain was the best since September and exceeded last year's average monthly gain of 187,000, the Labor Department reported Friday.

The unemployment rate ticked up to a still-low 4.8 percent last month from 4.7 percent in December. But the rate rose for a mostly good reason: More Americans started looking for work, though not all of them immediately found jobs. The percentage of adults working or looking for jobs reached its highest level since September.

Yet some of the economy's weak spots remain: Average hourly wages barely increased last month. And the number of people working part time who would prefer full-time work rose.

January's jobs figures reflect hiring that occurred mainly before Trump was inaugurated on Jan. 20. Still, it was the first employment report to be released with Trump occupying the White House, and he seems sure to take a close interest in it.

As a candidate, Trump frequently argued that the government's jobs data exaggerated the health of the economy. He called the unemployment rate a "hoax" and said it declined after the recession under President Barack Obama mainly because many Americans stopped working or looking for work.

The biggest factor in that trend has been widespread retirements by the vast generation of baby boomers.

Measures of business sentiment indicate that many employers have adopted a more positive outlook since Trump's election victory in November. The president's promised tax cuts, deregulation and infrastructure spending have increased optimism that the economy's sluggish pace of growth will pick up.

The National Federation of Independent Business said its measure of small business optimism soared 38 points in December to its highest level since 2004. And the Conference Board's consumer confidence index jumped to a 15-year high in December before dipping slightly last month.

The Federal Reserve has taken notice. It inserted a reference to the improved consumer and business outlook in a statement it issued after its policymakers met this week. The Fed left its key interest rate unchanged but struck a slightly more upbeat tone about the economy.

The economy appears to be on firm footing, and the possibility of further stimulus from tax cuts and infrastructure spending could quicken inflation and lead the Fed to raise rates more rapidly, some economists say.

Joseph LaVorgna, an economist at Deutsche Bank, said he is optimistic that the economy will accelerate this year, in part because of Trump's policies. But he thinks hiring is more likely to accelerate later this year.

In the meantime, most recent economic data have been positive and have pointed to a pickup in growth this year after a lackluster 2016.

American factories expanded last month at their fastest pace in more than two years, according to a private survey of purchasing managers. Production and new orders rose at a healthy pace. And a gauge of hiring suggested that manufacturers may have added jobs at a faster pace in January.

Businesses are also spending more on such high-priced items as industrial machinery, computers and autos, a government report last week showed.

Consumers are showing renewed health, too. They boosted their spending in December by the most in three months.

Comments
Inspector General launches investigation into Tampa Bay’s local career centers

Inspector General launches investigation into Tampa Bay’s local career centers

The state has opened an investigation into CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay, days after the Tampa Bay Times asked about whether the two regional job centers were inflating the number of people they had helped get hired. The agencies, ...
Published: 01/19/18
Tech firm TranferWise moves to Ybor City, illustrating a new chapter in Tampa’s business history

Tech firm TranferWise moves to Ybor City, illustrating a new chapter in Tampa’s business history

TAMPA — You could sketch an economic history of the city of Tampa — and maybe get a glimpse of its future — just by looking at the old J. Seidenberg & Co./Havana-American Cigar Factory.It opened in 1894, making it Ybor City’s second-oldest brick ciga...
Published: 01/19/18

Want to buy into an exchanged-traded bitcoin fund? You might have a long wait

NEW YORK — It may be a while, if ever, before investors can buy an exchange-traded fund made up of bitcoin and other digital currencies. Federal regulators have a long list of questions they want answered before they’ll approve a digital currency fun...
Published: 01/19/18
Child psychologist weighs in on mom who charges 5-year-old ‘rent’

Child psychologist weighs in on mom who charges 5-year-old ‘rent’

A Georgia mother has gone viral for charging her 5-year-old "rent." Yup — the kid pays up for food, water, cable and electric, too.Essense Evans described in a Facebook post how she handles her daughter’s allowance. The post, written on Saturday, was...
Published: 01/19/18

Addicted to your smartphone? Now there’s an app for that

Did you text? Sorry, I can’t see messages right now. Arianna Huffington locked my phone.The media tycoon turned wellness entrepreneur wants to keep you out of your phone, too, with a new app called Thrive. Its goal is to make it cool for a generation...
Published: 01/19/18
Proposed monument near St. Pete pier would honor Tony Jannus history-making flight

Proposed monument near St. Pete pier would honor Tony Jannus history-making flight

ST. PETERSBURG — Tony Jannus’s history-making flight in an early seaplane — simultaneously as ungainly and graceful as a pelican on the wing — is what Mayor Rick Kriseman calls an "under-told and under-appreciated" story, but a team of local history ...
Published: 01/19/18
Learn how bus rapid transit (and rail) could work in Tampa Bay

Learn how bus rapid transit (and rail) could work in Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG — The newest hope for transportation in the Tampa Bay area is a bus rapid transit system projected to cover the 41-miles separating St. Petersburg from Wesley Chapel and attract 4,500 new riders at a fraction of the cost of light rail....
Published: 01/19/18
Five things Tampa Bay needs to know about bus rapid transit

Five things Tampa Bay needs to know about bus rapid transit

ST. PETERSBURG — Transportation planners on Friday unveiled a new transit vision for Tampa Bay leaders on Friday morning: Bus rapid transit.Also known as BRT, it has arisen as the leading option in an ongoing study to find the best regional transit p...
Published: 01/19/18
Amazon boosts monthly Prime membership fees by 20 percent

Amazon boosts monthly Prime membership fees by 20 percent

NEW YORK — Amazon is raising the price of its Prime membership monthly plan by nearly 20 percent. The fee of $99 for an annual membership will not change, the company said Friday. The online retailer had added the monthly payment option about two yea...
Published: 01/19/18
Cuba’s tourism is booming despite Trump’s tougher policy

Cuba’s tourism is booming despite Trump’s tougher policy

HAVANA — On a sweltering early summer afternoon in Miami’s Little Havana, President Donald Trump told a cheering Cuban-American crowd that he was rolling back some of Barack Obama’s opening to Cuba in order to starve the island’s military-run economy...
Published: 01/19/18