January 19, 2019

Labor Department: U.S. Economy Created 312000 Jobs in December

08 January 2019, 10:12 | Austin Hogan

Democrats Try to Spin Massive Jobs Number as Bad News Alex Wong Getty4 Jan 2019

Nancy Pelosi Hoyer Perez

The employment site Glassdoor found that job postings have risen 17 percent in the past year to 6.7 million.

A separate household survey released by BLS shows that although the unemployment rate increased by 0.2 percentage points (p.p.) to 3.9 percent in December, it went up for the right reasons: more workers are coming off the sidelines and looking for work, signaling that the USA economy continues to hum along. Employers increased hours for workers, pushing the average workweek up to 34.5 hours from 34.4 hours in November. The rally kicked into high gear and the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended with a posting a 3.3 per cent gain, also helped by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell who said the USA central bank would be "patient" in deciding on any further increases in the benchmark lending rates.

The Labor Department's monthly jobs numbers delivering good news for the economy. President Donald Trump tweeted soon after the Bureau of Labour Statistics in its monthly employment report for December said that non-farm payroll employment increased by 312,000 in the country and the unemployment rate was at 3.9 per cent. Job creation past year rose to a monthly average of 220,000 positions, far higher than the 182,000 recorded in 2017 but lower than 2014 and 2015, a sign that 2018 was boosted by unusual tax cuts and fiscal stimulus.

Correction: A previous version of this article gave an incorrect figure for the percentage of total job growth in December. "This employment report suggests the US economy still has considerable forward momentum". The growth occurred in health care (+50,000), food services and drinking places (+41,000), construction (+38,000), manufacturing (+32,000) and retail trade (+24,000). The 284,000 manufacturing jobs created in 2018 was the most the industry has added in a calendar year since 1997. Hiring and wage gains will support consumer spending and offer some respite after a spate of weak economic data and cuts in corporate revenue forecasts fueled stock-market jitters.

The roughly 380,000 federal workers who were furloughed in December were not included in the report because the government shutdown started after the data was collected.

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The Fed raised rates four times in 2018. As workers continue to come off the sidelines, there also remain opportunities for sustained employment growth as we enter the new year.

A year ago started with an unemployment rate of 4.1 percent. The comparable increases across the whole economy, both hourly and weekly, were +3.2%.

With the labor market viewed as at or beyond full employment, job growth is expected to slow this year as workers become more scarce. Job growth averaged 220,000 per month in 2018. That is up from the almost 2.2 million jobs added in 2017, and marks the best year of job growth since 2015. Growth in federal, state and local government jobs, which had been picking up pace, tapered off.

For "hard hat" workers excluding supervisory personnel, the latest year-over-year compensation boosts were even more robust, +4.2% hourly and +4.5% weekly. The professional and business services (583,000) and education and health services (517,000) industries produced over half-a-million jobs each.

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