Sunday, 20 January, 2019

U.S. Hiring Surged in December, With 312,000 Jobs Added

US jobs growth jumps in December 312,000 jobs added in December; unemployment inches higher
Laurie Berry | 08 January, 2019, 09:25

A large portion of the growth occurred in health care, construction, food services, retail trade and manufacturing.

A strong employment report could offer some relief to global markets, which have reeled in recent months from a flood of concerns including slowing economic growth. "New orders have dried up and this will take a toll on business investment and growth in 2019". Factory activity in China and the United States have both weakened, with the Institute for Supply Management's US manufacturing index on Thursday posting its steepest decline in a decade.

The December jobs gain pushed total US employment above 150 million jobs for the first time.

The ISM said that demand had "softened". The labor force participation rate, or the proportion of working-age Americans who have a job or are looking for one, rose to 63.1 percent last month from 62.9 percent in November. It had been at a 50-year low of 3.7% for two of the last three months. Computer and electronic product manufacturers said "growth appears to have stopped".

President Donald Trump called the job growth "GREAT" on Twitter. The White House's protectionism has lead to a trade war with China and tit-for-tat tariffs with other trading partners, including the European Union, Canada and Mexico. The franchiser is also launching an apprenticeship program to attract workers, in addition to providing higher pay and benefits.

USA stocks extended losses on the weak ISM survey, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling more than 600 points at one point.

The ripple effects from slower growth overseas could eventually hurt the US economy, David Dollar, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told NPR's Scott Horsley.

The sharp stock market sell-off has raised the specter of a significant slowdown in growth this year, though economists see no recession.

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. Still, growth is likely to slow as the stimulus from last year's tax cuts wane. 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.

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Job gains were reported across all industries, with the exception of the information sector, which shed employment for the second straight month.

There could be hundreds of thousands of government workers who could say they're not working, which would lower the job totals.

Hiring has been unusually strong as the unemployment rate has fallen to 3.7 per cent - a 49-year low - from 4.1 per cent at the start of 2018.

According to survey results from Bloomberg, polled economists are expecting that USA job growth in 2018 will be capped off by a less-than-average gain for December.

The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate rose slightly to 3.9 percent, but that reflected a surge in jobseekers - a positive for growth.

Employers added 312,000 jobs, far ahead predictions of 177,000, the Labor Department said. Some of the moderation in employment gains has been attributed to the stock market rout.

While there is still little evidence of inflation in the economy, the strong December jobs report may influence the Federal Reserve to stay on its stated course of raising interest rates at least twice in 2019.

Claims data tends to be noisy around year-end holidays.

"The claims data suggest that conditions in the labor market have softened relative to a few months ago when the claims readings were very upbeat, but the extent of any deterioration is not entirely obvious and does not look extreme at this point", said Daniel Silver, an economist at JPMorgan in NY.

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