U.S employeers added:the most workers since February last month and wages ticked up, providing a reassuring sign of economic strength amid concerns over stock market volatility, rising federal interest rates and a trade war with China.
Nonfarm payrolls grew by 312,000 jobs in December, according to numbers released Friday by the Labor Department. Average hourly pay improved a seasonally adjusted 0.4 percent from November, and 3.2 percent from a year ago – up from a rise of 2.7 percent at the close of 2017.
Nevertheless, the unemployment rate edged upward 0.2 percent to 3.9 percent in December, with the increase being attributed to an influx of people entering the job market. “Today’s report was far stronger than any of us expected,” says Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor.
Friday’s numbers are an indication that the U.S. labor economy hasn’t yet been affected by recent woes on Wall Street and anxieties over trade wars and a global economic slowdown, Chamberlain says.
Stocks plummeted in December ahead of a hike in the federal interest rate, contributing to the market’s worst year since the 2008 financial crisis. The U.S. is engaged in an ongoing trade dispute with China that companies like Apple say are affecting sales, while the stimulative effects of the 2017 GOP tax cut are expected to taper off.
President Donald Trump, who sees economic metrics as indicative of his performance and who has been routinely critical of the Federal Reserve’s decision to hike interest rates, called the numbers “GREAT” on Twitter Friday morning. The jobs gains cut across a diverse set of industries. Much of the gains in December came in health care, food and drink industries, construction, manufacturing and retail.
Health care added 50,000 jobs in December, helping the industry to a 346,000-job gain for the year – more than the gain of 281,000 jobs in 2017. Food services added 41,000 jobs in December, while construction and manufacturing industries both added 38,000 and 32,000 works respectively. Job-recruiting sites are seeing the numbers reflected in postings: At Glassdoor, 6.7 million unfilled jobs were listed in December, up 17 percent from a year ago.