Job creation ended on a powerful note, surging by 312,000.
“The jobless rate, which was last higher in June, rose for the right reason as 419,000 new workers entered the workforce and the labor force participation rate increased to 63.1 percent. The participation level was up 0.2 percentage points from November and 0.4 percentage points compared with a year earlier.”
Moreover, the national seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for Hispanics and Latinos in the U.S. labor force hit its lowest level on record in December, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released Friday show.
“In December, the unemployment rate for Hispanics and Latinos, aged 16 and up, was 4.4%, down from 4.5% in November – tying its record low of 4.4% set in October of this year. BLS began tracking Hispanic-Latino employment data in 1973.”
“The number of Hispanics employed set a new record high of 27,701,000 last month, as their unemployment rate fell to a record low. The number of Hispanics employed, participating in the workplace, and civilian population all rose in December, as Hispanics’ labor force participation rate increased from 66.8% to 67.0%, recording its fourth straight monthly increase.”
“A broader measure of unemployment that includes discouraged workers and those holding part-time jobs for economic reasons held steady at 7.6 percent.”
“In addition to the big job gains, wages jumped 3.2 percent from a year ago and 0.4 percent over the previous month.”
Economists surveyed by Dow Jones predicted job growth of just 176,000 and the wage number blasted expectations.
“The far bigger than expected 312,000 jump in non-farm payrolls in December would seem to make a mockery of market fears of an impending recession,” Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said in a note. He added that the report “suggests the US economy still has considerable forward momentum.”
Despite media efforts to promote the idea that the U.S. economy is failing, the numbers don’t lie. And unlike under Obama, they weren’t ‘adjusted’ to ignore the number of people who had given up trying to find a job.
“Data released this week showed a key manufacturing mark hitting a two-year low and mortgage volume at its lowest in 18 years.”
“The economy has been slowing, but someone forgot to tell the labor markets,” said Jim Baird, chief investment officer for Plante Moran Financial Advisors. “Employers, it would seem, didn’t get the memo from Mr. Market that it’s time to tighten their belts.”
Many people recognize that the optimism is directly related to the policies enacted under President Trump.
His withdrawal of NAFTA and strong stance with NATO have impacted employers who understand the value of the moves.
“Payrolls growth totaled 2.6 million in 2018, the highest since 2015 and well above the 2.2 million in 2017,” according to the BLS.
Health care led the way in new jobs, adding 50,000 for the month thanks to 38,000 new positions in ambulatory services and 7,000 more in hospitals. The industry saw a boom of 346,000 for the year, compared with a 284,000 gain the year before.
Restaurants and bars added 41,000 to the close the year with a 235,000 gain, down from 261,000 in 2017.
Construction also was one of the big gainers despite a slumping housing market. The industry added 38,000 jobs in December, bringing the annual total to 280,000, a 12 percent gain from 2017’s 250,000.
Manufacturing also tuned in a solid 32,000 gain for the month, with the bulk of the growth coming from the 19,000 positions added in the key durable goods sector. The sector also saw a surge in 2018, with the 284,000 new positions representing a 37 percent rise from the previous year.
Another closely watched sector, retail, posted growth of 24,000 thanks to a holiday season boost. For the year, retail added 92,000, reversing the loss of 29,000 in 2017.