USA employers add 148000 jobs, jobless rate stays 4.1 pct

Saturday, 06 Jan, 2018

Meanwhile, the Labor Department said the unemployment rate came in at 4.1% in December, unchanged from the two previous months and in line with economist estimates. Average hourly earnings rose by 5 cents - an annual rate of 2.3 percent (and up 2.5 percent year-over-year).

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for teenagers declined to 13.6 percent in December, offsetting an increase in November.

There were weak spots, though: Retail stores lost 67,000 jobs last year after several years of robust gains.

After reporting a bigger than expected jump in employment in the previous month, the Labor Department released a report on Friday showing employment in the United States increased by much less than anticipated in the month of December.

This is a significant drop from October and November, which added 211,000 and 252,000 jobs respectively, as the new revisions in today's report shows.

However, growth in employment in the service-providing sector slowed to just 91,000 jobs in December from 176,000 jobs in November. It could get a boost from a $1.5 trillion package of tax cuts passed by the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump last month.

But the lift from the fiscal stimulus, which includes a sharp reduction in the corporate income tax rate to 21% from 35%, is likely to be modest as the stimulus is occurring with the economy operating nearly at capacity.

USA employers add 148000 jobs, jobless rate stays 4.1 pct

Average monthly job gains have slowed to 171,000 this year from a peak of 250,000 in 2014.

For all of 2017, the economy created 2.1 million jobs, below the 2.2 million added in 2016.

In January 2017, the unemployment rate for black Americans over the age of 16 was 7.8 percent.

Ashworth said, "We anticipate a more marked acceleration in wage growth this year, with the annual rate climbing to 3% by end-2018".

The economic sectors that most drove total nonfarm employment growth in December (on a seasonally adjusted basis) include construction (+30,000), healthcare and social assistance (+29,200) and leisure and hospitality (+29,000). Those with less than a high school education saw their unemployment rate fall another 0.5 percentage points (after a 0.8 decline in the October report) to 5.2 percent. Some envision the unemployment rate dropping as low as 3.5 percent by the end of 2018.

That could potentially unleash a faster pace of wage growth and translate into a much stronger increase in inflation than now anticipated.

Employment in health care increased by 31,000 in December. Those revisions combine for a net 9,000-job loss over previous reports but still puts the average growth in those months about 85,000 jobs higher than December's report.