Wednesday, 26 June, 2019

December Jobs Report: 312,000 Jobs Added, Unemployment Slightly Rises

Bank economists expect US employment data to slow down - Bloomberg US jobs growth jumps in December
Russell Knight | 07 January, 2019, 11:38

The Department of Labor jobs report caps what has been a strong year for the American economy. Both were seen as more red flags that the economic expansion, now in its ninth year and the second longest on record, is losing steam.

The Labor Department reports the economy produced 312,000 new jobs in December, drawing thousands of Americans back into the labor force. "There is growing concern that the economy will slowdown significantly 2019". The strong wage gain makes a policy change unlikely. Average hourly earnings grew 3.2 percent over the past 12 months - topping the 3.1 percent increase in November.

Morgan Stanley - 167,000 jobs, 3.7 percent unemployment, 3.1 percent annual wage growth.

The unemployment rate, which has remained at historic lows, inched up slightly last month - the greatest increases were seen among male workers. The Labor Department has not been affected by the partial shutdown of the US government and will continue to publish economic data complied by its statistics agency, the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Data releases from Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis have been suspended during the shutdown, which started on December 22 amid demands by Trump for $5 billion in funding for a wall on the U.S. -Mexico border.

Stocks surged on the news, along with word that the USA and China will hold trade talks next week and comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell that the Fed will be flexible in judging whether to raise interest rates further. Powell is due to appear on a panel with his two predecessors about two hours after the report's release.

The Fed raised rates four times in 2018. Still, growth is likely to slow as the stimulus from last year's tax cuts wane. However, the stock market will have to weigh whether the strong job growth encourages the Fed to hike rates in 2019 more frequently than investors had previously anticipated. "That's a deal we'll take if more people are participating in the workforce".

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.

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Citigroup's measure of how key economic indicators are faring versus economists' forecasts is at its most negative in 16 months.

"Overall, the markets may have decided the Fed's work is done, but the economic data say otherwise", said Ashworth. "Too hot means fears of Fed tightening, too cool means fears of recession".

The unemployment rate rose from 3.7 percent to 3.9 percent because more people were looking for jobs in December.

The jolt in hiring offers a dose of reassurance after a tumultuous few months as the outlook from the financial markets has turned decidedly bleaker.

The big unknown is the partial federal government shutdown.

"We expect the December employment report to remind markets that the United States growth outlook remains stable despite financial market volatility", he said.

But in recent weeks, financial markets have been increasingly anxious about the path of economic growth this year.

Job gains were widespread, with construction, manufacturing, health care and leisure and hospitality all posting gains of more than 30,000 jobs. Retail employment increased by 23,800 jobs. Hospitals also contributed, adding 7,400 jobs last month.

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