The report, released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, comes amid concern over whether the USA economy is part of a global deceleration, despite turning in its best year since the Great Recession.
The December jobs gain pushed total US employment above 150 million jobs for the first time. The aggregate weekly payrolls index - a proxy for total personal incomes that combines average hourly earnings, average weekly hours, and employment - jumped by 0.9% supporting strong consumption growth at year-end. During the first 11 months of 2018, employers added 2.27 million jobs, or an average of 206,182 a month, according to the Labor Department.
With an unexpectedly strong finish to 2018, the blowout U.S. jobs numbers were a reminder that the world's largest economy remains in good health for the moment - sharply contrasting with gloom on global financial markets in recent weeks. And yet, the unemployment rate rose from 3.7 to 3.9 percent. While that may sound ominous to some, economists stated this was due simply to more people entering the work force to seek employment. This is a positive sign for the labor market, as it means that tight labor market conditions are drawing people in to seek employment.
The robust labour 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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There were job gains across many industries in December, including significant gains in education and health services (82,000), leisure and hospitality (55,000), and in manufacturing (32,000).
"Employment is a lagging economic indicator, and December saw significant evidence of a global economic slowdown", Hicks says.
US employers dramatically stepped up their hiring in December, adding 312,000 jobs in an encouraging display of strength for an economy in the midst of a trade war, slowing global growth and a partial shutdown of the federal government. Instead, the market saw a substantial addition of jobs in December. That's a tiny bump, and reflects more of the slow wage growth that has plagued the economy in recent years.
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Within the transportation sector, the trucking industry performed relatively well by adding 2,900 workers to payrolls during the month.
Last November was the third straight month with a 3.7% unemployment rate - the lowest in nearly 50 years.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also amended previous reports to show that more jobs were added - a common move after last year's hurricanes scrambled the numbers, analysts said.
The December jobs was nearly universally positive, with jobs, wages, and participation all moving in the right direction.
There are concerns that tightening financial market conditions because of the steep stock market sell-off could hurt hiring. Once again, the labor market appears to be providing the growth that workers have needed for so long. It needs to create roughly 100,000 jobs per month to keep up with growth in the working-age population. Right now, hiring in the economy is on an upward trend.
But hiring has easily eclipsed that pace.
Alberta shed 17,000 jobs in December, but achieved a decent result year-over-year, +22,000. The pace of hiring in the industry has outpaced the rest of the economy for several months now, which has helped to ease the capacity crunch from where it was earlier in the year.
As competition for employees intensified, companies expanded their search for hires.