American economy added 292,000 jobs in December

For the second-straight month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released uplifting news:  The American economy was the benefactor of close to 300,000 new jobs.

December also revealed the unemployment rate remained unmoved at five percent; the labor participation rate increased slightly from 62.5% to 62.6%, down from 62.7% one year ago; and long-term unemployment dropped 25% from one year ago.

Construction, professional and business services and education and healthcare reflected the strongest growth at the end of the fourth quarter.  Manufacturing lagged behind with 8,000 jobs added in the sector and mining lost 8,000 jobs.

Upward revisions for October, which originally yielded 298,000 jobs, were raised to 307,000 and November, which first reported 211,000 jobs, was adjusted to 252,000.  This marks three months of strong job growth with an average of 284,000 jobs created per month to end the year.

Encouraged by the new of robust job growth, Jim Baird, chief investment officer at Plante Moran Financial Advisors stated the jobs report:

“Provides reassurance that employers remain confident enough in their business outlook to continue to add to their payrolls at a robust pace.”

December’s job report follows a slight increase in interest rates, the first in close to a decade.  The Federal Reserve increased overnight interest rates by a quarter point from 0.25% to 0.50% last month.

In addition to a slight increase in consumer spending and a rise in interest-rates inspiring some confidence, some financial experts expressed caution:

“It is one more sign the domestic economy continues to chug along.  It is not a game changer in terms of faster economic growth, but it offsets some of the other indicators that recently have suggested the economy might be slowing down,” said Edward Jones’ Kate Warne.

Despite the heartening news, some analysts were skeptical about the ability of the American economy to replicate the final quarter’s job growth.  Citing economic instability in China affecting American markets, wage stagnation and a foundation of service jobs as opposed to manufacturing jobs which appear to buoy the economy, Ryan Sweet, senior economist at Moody’s Analytics, said:

“Though December was fairly impressive, it will be difficult to duplicate these gains over the next few months.”


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