Job creation boomed in December.
U.S. economy added 312,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate rose to 3.9 percent, according to data released Friday.
Economists had expected nonfarm payrolls to rise by 176,000 and the unemployment to hold steady at 3.7 percent.
The previous month was revised up as well. November, initially reported at a lower than expected 155,000 jobs gain, was revised up to 176,000. October’s gain went from 274,000 to 237,000. That adds up to a net gain of 58,000 from the previous tallies.
The labor market has been one of the bulwarks of the economy, remaining strong even while financial markets have gone wobbly.
Average hourly earnings rose 0.4 percent, more than the 0.3 percent expected. A month earlier, wages grew 0.2 percent. Compared with a year earlier, wages were up 3.2 percent, handily beating consumer price increases. The annual gain tied with October’s for the best since 2009. The average work week rose 0.1 hour to 34.5 hours.
The rise in unemployment was due to nearly 400,000 Americans entering the workforce. The labor force participation rate rose by two-tenths of a percentage point. It’s likely that higher wages and plentiful jobs are luring people back into the workforce.
The revival of American manufacturing continued in the final month of 2018. The economy added 32,000 factory jobs for the month, including 19,000 positions added in the durable goods sector. That brings total new manufacturing jobs to 284,000 in 2018, a 37 percent rise from the previous year.
And it was a jolly season for retail, which added 24,000 jobs for the month. Compared to last year, retail employs 92,0-00 more jobs than a year ago.
Construction jobs also came in strong, despite many fears about a slumping housing market. The industry added 38,000 jobs, lifting the annual total to 280,000, 12 percent higher than the prior year.
Restaurants and bars decked the halls with new positions, adding 41,000.
Health care was the strongest sector for the month, with 50,000 new jobs.