U.S. Job Numbers Exceeds Expectations

Gains in U.S. employment left predictions in the dust in January.

Figures released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed non-farm payrolls grew by 200,000 in January and the unemployment rate was 4.1%.

Economists had been expecting jobs growth of 180,000 and an unemployment rate of 4.1%

In addition to the solid payroll growth, average hourly earnings were up 0.3% for the month, matching estimates and reflecting an annualized gain of 2.9%.

The numbers come amid an expected acceleration in growth for the U.S. economy. The Atlanta Federal Reserve is expecting a gain in gross domestic product of 5.4% in the first quarter, which would be the best increase since the recovery began in mid-2009.

Within the jobs report, Wall Street and policymakers are watching wage numbers closely. While job gains have been solid and consistent, salary growth has been elusive. Average hourly earnings were projected to increase 0.3% from December.

The report comes after the initially reported 148,000 in December and two days after ADP said private payrolls increased by 234,000.