U.S. job market is off to a strong start in 2017

The good news is, the U.S. job market is off to a strong start in 2017. The bad news is, there will be an annoying debate today as to who deserves credit.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that the U.S. economy added 227,000 jobs in January. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, remains low, inching higher from 4.7% to 4.8%. It’s the 16th consecutive month the rate has been at 5% or lower.

As for the revisions, once a year, the Labor Department publishes a report that revises the monthly totals for the entire previous calendar year. Today’s report includes that data, which is reflected in the above chart.

Note, with these revisions, we now know the overall economy added 2.24 million new jobs in 2016 – an increase over the previous estimate – which is a very healthy number. What’s more, January was the 76th consecutive month of positive job growth, which is the longest on record.

Above you’ll find the chart I run every month, showing monthly job losses since the start of the Great Recession. The image makes a distinction – red columns point to monthly job totals under the Bush administration, while blue columns point to job totals under the Obama administration.

Note, I’m inclined to keep January 2017 as blue, since President Obama was in office for most of the month. Looking back, I kept January 2009 as red for the same reason, and I want to be consistent.