The torrid hiring in December far outstripped the 180,000 jobs investors had been anticipating and could help ease fears that the economy's expansion - now in the middle of its 10th year - may be coming to an end.
US economy added 312,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate was 3.9%, marking a strong finish to 2018. Even with fear of a global economic slump depressing stock markets, Friday, jobs report for December is expected to offer reassurance that the US economy remains sturdy and on track to expand for a 10th straight year. Mike Hicks, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State, says in addition to the increase in jobs, wage gains were also strong last month.
And although the unemployment rate rose slightly, wage growth increased 3.2 percent from the previous December. Manufacturing employment increased by 284,000 jobs over the year, the report said. "This employment report suggests the USA economy still has considerable forward momentum".
There were job gains across many industries in December, including significant gains in education and health services (82,000), leisure and hospitality (55,000), and in manufacturing (32,000).
"While an encouraging indicator of our resilient economy, the final jobs report of 2018 comes as the economy shows unsure signs of its direction", House Majority Leader Steny H Hoyer said, adding that the Trump administration's economic policies are "taking a toll on small businesses, farmers, and working families". "The recent turmoil in markets is raising the likelihood of some slowing ahead, although these data provide a reminder of how strong the trend has been before whatever slowing occurs", he said.
The roughly 380,000 federal workers who were furloughed in December were not included in the report because the government shutdown started after the data was collected.
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Wage growth also continued to accelerate this month, reaching 3.2% for private-sector workers. The industry added 38,000 jobs in December, bringing the annual total to 280,000, a 12 percent gain from 2017?s 250,000. The unemployment rate, for example, hit an 18-year low in May and black Americans' unemployment hit the lowest level recorded by the government.
The economy grew at a 3.4 percent pace in the third quarter. As a result, these figures are the lowest since 1969, giving more and more people confidence they can find a job. Growth in federal, state and local government jobs, which had been picking up pace, tapered off. Hiring last month jumped in healthcare, bars and restaurants, construction and, notably, in manufacturing, especially for durable goods, fabricated metal products and computers and electronics - all sectors that complain of lower profits and lost sales due to global trade tensions.
For "hard hat" workers excluding supervisory personnel, the latest year-over-year compensation boosts were even more robust, +4.2% hourly and +4.5% weekly.
The economy needs to add 80,000 jobs a month just to maintain current staffing levels, said Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM, an global consulting firm.