Jobs Report: Hiring and Wage Growth Slowed in December

jobs report

Payrolls added 145,000 jobs last month while the unemployment rate stayed at 3.5%, according to this morning’s jobs report from the Labor Department. Prior to the report’s release, economists polled by Reuters predicted the addition of 164,000 jobs to public and private payrolls.

Over the course of the year, the economy added 2.1 million jobs – the smallest increase since 2011, per The New York Times.

“I think 2019 was a year of consolidation,” says Gregory Daco, the chief United States economist at Oxford Economic, speaking with the Times. “We had relatively strong and steady job growth over the year despite a number of headwinds including a trade war with China, weaker global activity and heightened policy uncertainty.”

Daco predicts that job growth will average only 125,000 jobs per month in 2020 but notes that this is “still enough to provide for a stable unemployment rate and provide for people coming back into the labor force.”

Where Jobs Are Growing

Several industries added jobs in December, including:

  • Retail trade (+41,000 jobs)
  • Leisure/hospitality (+40,000 jobs)
  • Health care (+28,000 jobs)

Other industries experienced declines, including:

  • Mining (-8,000 jobs)
  • Transportation/warehousing (-10,000 jobs)
  • Manufacturing (-12,000 jobs)

Wholesale trade, information, financial activities and government showed little change last month.

Wage Growth Slowed: “Yikes,” Says One Economist

Average hourly earnings for private-sector employees increased 3 cents to $28.32, according to the report. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by just 2.9% — lower than what many economists would expect, given the jobs numbers.

“Nick Bunker of Indeed exclaimed ‘yikes; at the wage-growth number and said in a tweet, ‘you’d want to see this number pick up at this point in the economic cycle,’” reports Robert Schroeder at MarketWatch.

“A healthy jobs number, but lackluster wage growth is not news workers want to hear,” says Robert Frick, corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union, per CBS News. “Given the labor market is tightening, that wages only grew at a 2.9% rate in the last year is another argument that something has fundamentally changed in the economy.”

Further, The PayScale Index, which measures the change in wages for employed U.S. workers, shows that real wages have declined 9.6% since 2006, as of Q3 2019.

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