Economy

312,000 jobs added in December; unemployment inches higher

312,000 jobs added in December; unemployment inches higher”

The robust labor market, especially strengthening wage growth, suggests the economy will continue to expand this year despite the ebb in consumer confidence, continued weakness in the housing market and cooling manufacturing activity.

With the labor market viewed as at or beyond full employment, job growth is expected to slow this year as workers become more scarce.

The strong employment report likely keeps the Federal Reserve on course to continue raising interest rates this year, deepening its rift with Wall Street and President Donald Trump, who has chastised the Fed and its chairman, Jerome Powell, repeatedly for the rate increases.

Don't see the graphic above? The unemployment rate held at 3.7% in November, matching a almost half-century low, and economists expect it declined further to 3.6% in December.

Wage growth also picked up. Average hourly earnings are expected to have climbed 3 per cent from a year ago, up from a year-over-year gain of 2.7 per cent at the end of 2017.

Several sectors saw a pickup in hiring.

Hiring last month was likely across all sectors. Manufacturing payrolls are forecast to have increased by 20,000 jobs in December, but could surprise on the downside after a measure of factory employment fell last month. Claims touched a 49-year low of 202,000 in mid-September before rising modestly following two hurricanes striking the Southern U.S., causing disruptions to some businesses. " "This employment report suggests the USA economy still has considerable forward momentum". Apple on Wednesday cut its sales forecast for its quarter ending in December, citing slowing iPhone sales in China.

Major companies such as Apple say their sales are being jeopardized by the tariff war between Washington and Beijing, and an important gauge of US manufacturing posted its steepest decline in a decade Thursday. The dollar.DXY surrendered earlier gains against a basket of currencies and U.S. Treasury yields rose. That followed weaker-than-expected manufacturing figures from the eurozone and China, underscoring expectations for other major economies around the world to slow.

The U.S. economy added more than 300,000 new jobs in the final month of 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said in its jobs report Friday.

Still, consumer confidence slid in December, the Conference Board said.

The strong job growth suggests employers believe USA consumer spending will stay robust.

Health care and education services added 82,000 jobs in December, the biggest jump since February 2012. The government shutdown, if it extends beyond next week, could weigh on January payrolls.

Depending on how long it lasts, the shutdown "could be a big negative" in next month's jobsreport, which will reflect January employment, Kevin Hassett, a top economic adviser to President Trump, said Thursday.

The report did not include the impact of about 380,000 federal workers who were furloughed in December because of the government shutdown.

"Yes, the nation's unemployment rate rose to 3.9%, but for the best of reasons", said Mark Hamrick, Bankrate.com senior economic analyst.



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