December Marks Unexpected Job Growth
According to a report released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US economy added 312,000 jobs in December.
This is far higher than economists’ estimate of 176,000.
Job growth for October and November was revised to 247,000 and 176,000, respectively.
The stats for December are surprising considering recent warnings about an economic slowdown caused by factors including: trade tensions with China, the Federal Reserve’s decision to increase interest rates for a fourth time in 2018, and the partial government shutdown.
“The far bigger than expected 312,000 jump…would seem to make a mockery of market fears of an impending recession,” said economist Paul Ashworth, adding that the US economy “still has considerable forward momentum.”
As a whole, the US added 2.64 million jobs in 2018 (compared to 2.19 million in 2017 and 2.34 million in 2016).
Other stats from December:
- Wages increased 3.2% compared to December 2017
- Wages increased 0.4% compared to November 2018
- Hourly earnings increased 0.4%
- Average work week increased by 0.1 hours to reach 34.5 hours
- Unemployment rate rose slightly to reach 3.9%
Leading the way in new jobs was the healthcare industry, which added 50,000 jobs during the month of December.
Other notable increases include:
- Bars and restaurants with 41,000 jobs
- Construction with 38,000 jobs
Manufacturing with 2,000 jobs
Retail with 24,000 jobs
Government with 11,000 jobs
The Bureau’s report, combined with news of upcoming trade talks with China and suggestions the Fed could reconsider its plans to increase rates in 2019, contributed to a stock market surge that came as a relief to investors following record losses on Christmas Eve.