America Created 145,000 Jobs in December

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The U.S. economy added 145,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate held steady at 3.5 percent, matching the lowest level in 50 years.

Economists had expected the economy to add 158,000 jobs and for unemployment to remain unchanged at 3.5 percent, according to Econoday. On Wednesday, ADP and Moody’s Analytics said the U.S. private sector added 202,000 jobs.

October and November were both revised down. October’s jobs figure was revised down 4,000 to 152,000. November’s figure was revised down 10,000 to 256,000.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 3 cents to $28.32. Compared with a year ago, average hourly earnings have increased by 2.9 percent, slightly below the 3.1 pace seen in November. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees, at $23.79, were up by 2 cents.

In December, retail trade added 41,000 jobs.  Clothing and accessories stores added 33,000. Building material and garden supply stores added 7,000. Both industries showed employment declines in the prior month, which suggests that seasonal adjustments around the holidays may be playing some havoc with these figures. Economists and the government’s seasonal adjustments are still figuring out how holiday hiring works in the era of abundant online shopping.

Employment in health care increased by 28,000 in December. Employment in leisure and hospitality jumped by 40,000. Construction employment changed rose by 20,000 but manufacturing employment declined by 12,000 and mining fell by 8,000.

The labor force participation rate held steady at 63.2 percent.  The labor force rose by 209,000 to 164.6 million and those considered out of the labor force declined by 48,000 to 95.6 million.

 

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