Economy added 200,000 jobs in January; wage growth best since 2009

U.S. employers added 200,000 jobs in January, beating expectations for an increase of 180,000 jobs after December’s lower-than-expected reading.

The unemployment rate remained steady at 4.1%, the lowest rate in more than 17 years, while the labor force participation rate remained at 62.7% for the fourth month in a row. Average hourly earnings meanwhile rose 9 cents to $26.74. Over the course of the year, wages increased by 2.9%, or 75 cents.

The jobs numbers come on the heels of a report Wednesday from payroll processing firm ADP, which revealed that 234,000 private sector jobs were added in January, down from 250,000 in December.

During his first official State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Trump focused largely on the state of the economy, touting the business-friendly tax overhaul he signed into law in late December. More than 200 U.S. companies have offered bonuses, raised minimum wages or lifted contributions to employees’ 401(k) retirement accounts, citing the Republican-backed tax cuts.

Although opinion remains divided on the tax reform plan – 44% approve and 44% disapprove – there has been a significant upswing in public support since December, when only 26% approved of the bill and 47% disapproved, according to a new poll published by Monmouth University.

And according to a press release from the White House, polling shows that a majority of Americans are satisfied with the state of the economy, with consumer optimism increasing in January.

But signs of wage and job growth could fuel concerns that the Federal Reserve will accelerate its interest rate hike to prevent potential inflation increases – in turn slowing the economy and sending stocks down.

Wall Street is already experiencing a tumultuous week, with the benchmark S&P 500 stock index on track for its first weekly decline in five years. The Dow rose 0.14%, and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.35%.

Recent polling shows Americans are satisfied with the state of the U.S. economy, with the percentage of those polled with positive views of the economy at a 17-year high.

National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn will join FOX Business’ Stuart Varney at 9:45 a.m. ET for a full analysis of the latest data and what it means for U.S. workers and the economy.