“Beyond the surprising hiring jump in January, employment numbers were revised up for 2022 by about half a million and were marked up for the last two months as well. As strong as we thought the job market was, it was even stronger.”

Mortgage jobs decline

However, mortgage jobs trailed the national figures. The January report showed that mortgage banking firms trimmed 47,000 full-time employees from their payrolls, compared to 2,500 layoffs in December.

“The economy looks to be bifurcated to begin 2023, with services performing far stronger than expected but more interest rate-sensitive sectors, such as manufacturing and housing, essentially already in recession,” Drake said. “On balance, the overall economy looks to be stronger than we anticipated.”

“With the job market this tight, the Federal Reserve and financial markets will remain even more focused on the inflation data,” Fratantoni added. “We expect another 25-basis-point increase in the federal funds target in March, but do anticipate that the unemployment rate, which does tend to be a lagging indicator, will increase through the course of the year.”

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