January 7, 2019
The U.S. economy expanded by 312,000 jobs in December, though the unemployment rate inched up to 3.9%, its highest level since July. The latest Labor Department numbers showed an annual 3.2% boost in wages, following nearly a decade of lukewarm growth.
All told, 2018 was the best year for job creation since 2015. The numbers included an expansion of 2.6 million jobs and a labor participation rate that increased to 63.1% in December, up from 62.9% in November.
Employment in healthcare rose by 50,000 in December. Employment in food services and drinking places increased by 41,000 in December. Over the year, the industry added 235,000 jobs, similar to the increase in 2017 (+261,000).
Construction employment rose by 38,000 in December, with job gains in heavy and civil engineering construction (+16,000) and nonresidential specialty trade construction (+16,000). The construction industry added 280,000 jobs in 2018, compared with an increase of 250,000 in 2017.
Manufacturing added 32,000 jobs in December. Manufacturing employment increased by 284,000 over the year, with about three-fourths of the gain in durable goods industries. Manufacturing had added 207,000 jobs in 2017.
Economists predict the pace of overall hiring will slow in 2019.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics amended reports for the previous two months. November’s figure was revised up to a net increase of 176,000 jobs from 155,000, while October’s gains grew to 274,000 from 237,000.
For comments, questions or concerns, please contact Dennis Kaiser