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January jobs report significantly beats expectations despite surge in Omicron cases

Some experts were bracing for a disappointing January jobs report — but it ended up significantly beating expectations. 

The Labor Department said Friday the U.S. economy added 467,000 jobs in January as the unemployment rate increased slightly to 4.0 percent. 

This number was much higher than expected, as economists were expecting about 150,000 jobs to be added, CNBC reports. The better-than-expected report came despite the recent surge in Omicron COVID-19 cases in the United States. 

In fact, Axios wrote ahead of the report's release that a "negative number would hardly be shocking," and the White House was reportedly bracing for a disappointing report. "The peak of Omicron cases coincided with when the payroll data was being collected," Biden Council of Economic Advisers member Jared Bernstein previously warned CNN, while Glassdoor senior economist Daniel Zhao wrote in a preview, "The job market is likely to slow dramatically as the impacts of Omicron are fully felt."

But the January report showed that the "jobs market is tremendously strong," CNN business correspondent Christine Romans said Friday, while economist Jason Furman suggested the numbers indicate "the economy no longer cares" about COVID-19. "People returned to the workforce," Furman wrote. "The economy added jobs. Wages rose. You would barely know it happened from the economic data." 

Zhao also wrote Friday that the report "signals that the job market recovery is plowing forward, despite Omicron headwinds."