For those curious where the big jump in earnings came from, the answer appears rather simple: the reason, according to the BLS' breakdown of jobs added in January (per the Establishment survey), of the 151,000 jobs added in the past month, retail trade added 58,000 jobs in January, while employment in food services and drinking places, aka waiters and bartenders, rose by 47,000 in January.
In other words, 70% of the job gains in January went to minimum wage workers.
So how does one explain the snap higher in January wages?
Simple: state regulations demanding higher wages for minimum wage workers starting January 1, which as discussed previously will promptly lead to employers passing on wage hikes costs to consumers in the form of 10% higher food prices starting in NYC and soon everywhere else.
This is the full breakdown of January job gains:
- Retail Trade: +58K
- Leisure and Hospitality, which includes food workers: +44K
- Professional and business service workers, excluding temp workers: +34K
- Manufacturing workers posted a curious rebound, rising by +29K. We are confident this number will be revised promptly lower.
- Construction +18K
- Wholesale Trade: +9K
- Education and Health saw a big and unexplained drop from 54K to 6K
- Information services added just 1K workers
- As for sectors losing workers included Temp Help workers, Transportation and Warehousing (courtesy of the truck and train recession), Mining and Logging, and Government workers.
Bottom line: the big sequential bounce in wages was driven entirely by the January minimum wage increase, and the low December base effect. Expect this sequential increase to renormalize in February when the base now reflect higher minimum wages.