U.S. Job Market Continues to Soar

08 January, 2019, 10:13 | Author: Brooke Harris
  • Nancy Pelosi Hoyer Perez

The torrid hiring in December far outstripped the 180,000 jobs investors had been anticipating and could help ease fears that the economy's expansion - now in the middle of its 10th year - may be coming to an end.

The U.S. economy added more than 300,000 new jobs in the final month of 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said in its jobs report Friday.

The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate rose slightly to 3.9 percent, but that reflected a surge in jobseekers- a positive for growth. Average hourly and average weekly earnings for all "hard hat" workers were both +3.9% year over year.

This comes after Wall Street projected that job numbers would increase 177,000 in the month.

Overall unemployment increased by 0.2 points to 3.9 percent in December, with 419,000 Americans out of work. Job creation previous 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.

The ripple effects from slower growth overseas could eventually hurt the USA economy, David Dollar, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told NPR's Scott Horsley.

"Friday's payrolls numbers suggest a healthier U.S. economy than some investors had anticipated", it said. 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).

"This is the 12th jobs report following the historic rewrite of our nation's tax code, and the trend remains the same: strong growth for America", the House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Kevin Brady said. Revisions to the October and November estimates added an additional 58,000 jobs to the 2018 total.

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The U.S. central bank raised rates four times in 2018. Forecasts from Fed officials last month indicated they expect just two rate hikes in 2019 amid signs of weakness, rather than three.

The Labor Department has not been affected by the partial shutdown of the US government and will continue to publish economic data complied by its statistics agency, the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Wages grew 3.2 percent in the year since December 2017 after almost a decade of tepid growth, the Labor Department's latest numbers showed.

The economy grew at a 3.4 percent pace in the third quarter. That's still lower than it was a year ago, when the jobless rate was 4.1 percent and there were 6.6 million unemployed workers. Anecdotal evidence has been growing of companies experiencing difficulties finding workers, and raising wages to retain and attract employees. On the goods side of the economy, both manufacturing and construction saw solid gains in employment in December, with each adding over 30,000 workers to payrolls.

Government jobs saw a gain of 11,000.

And businesses are still searching for more workers. Among health care sub-sectors, "home health care services" stood out with +13,000 jobs month-to-month.

By industry sector, the largest revisions to November's jobs statistics came from "retail" (+18,000), "government" (+16,000) and "leisure and hospitality" (+14,000).

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