Stevenson weighs in on January jobs report

February 6, 2022

The January jobs report revealed strong employment gains, with 467,000 jobs added in January. Betsey Stevenson, professor of public policy and economics, analyzed the report for numerous media outlets.

The jobgains occurred in the midst of a surge in COVID-19 infections caused by the omicroin variant. “While millions of people may have been out sick at some point in January, they most likely didn’t lose their job or go an entire pay period without pay,” she told the Wall Street Journal.

This was different from previous jobs reports, but Stevenson said it confirmed the trends we have seen with the omicron variant.

"The figures we got today were a little bit surprising. But I think we all knew that businesses weren’t shutting down because of omicron," she said on MSNBC All In. "There are still millions of people who were out sick and I think we shouldn’t downplay that, but what they didn’t have to do was lose their job or completely disappear from their company’s payroll."

The report also reveals a new trend: an increase in labor force participation for older Americans. 

“The real impact here was on workers 55 years and older, where we saw a larger share of older people are working than we originally thought,” Stevenson told Marketplace.

Overall, Stevenson believes that the January jobs report shows general economic recovery and growth. 

"What it shows is that the economy is strong and has been strong and omicron didn’t get in the way of jobs, in terms of people either losing jobs or disappearing for an entire pay period," she told Bloomberg Markets. "Even if they had a few slow days of business, they didn’t shut their doors. So we see that the labor market is healing."

Read and hear the items featuring Stevenson: