Job growth in 2018 ended strong with U.S. employers adding 312,000 jobs last month, the fastest pace since February. Wages also surged with the best annual gain since 2008. Moreover, the unemployed rate rose slightly from the 50-year low of 3.7 percent to 3.9 percent. However, this slight increase in the unemployment rate is due to more Americans entering this strong job market.
A year ago today, the unemployment rate was 4.1 percent with the number of unemployed persons equaling 6.6 million. Fast forward to today and the unemployment rate is at 3.9% with only 6.3 million unemployed persons.
Revised jobs for October and November
The 312,000 job gains shot economists’ expectations of 181,000 jobs out of the water. Additionally, payroll increases for October and November were revised upward by an additional 58,000 jobs. October’s job gains were revised from 155,000 to 176,000 and November’s gains from 237,000 to 274,000.
After revisions, job gains have averaged an outstanding 254,000 jobs per month over the last 3 months.
In December, long-term unemployment remained relatively unchanged at 1.3 million. This accounts for just 20.5 percent of the unemployed. Over the year, long-term unemployment was down by 205,000 people. The labor force participation rate again remained relatively unchanged at 63.1 percent.
Average hourly earnings increase
Average hourly earnings rose by $0.11 for an average hourly rate of $27.48 in December. Over the last year, average hourly earnings have risen by $0.84 or 3.2%.
Employment numbers by industry
Healthcare led the way again with 50,000 jobs added in December. Ambulatory healthcare services added 38,000 jobs and hospitals gained 7,000 jobs. Over the year, the Healthcare industry added 346,000 jobs and 284,000 in 2017.
Additionally, employment in Professional Services continued to show signs of strength with an addition of 41,000 jobs last month. The industry has added 583,000 jobs in 2018, vastly outpacing job gains of 458,000 in 2017
The Food Services industry increased by 41,000 jobs and has added a total of 235,000 jobs in 2018 and 261,000 in 2017. Construction followed closely with an addition of 38,000 jobs in December. The majority of these gains (16,000) are from heavy and civil engineering construction. Over the year, the Construction industry added 280,000 jobs and in 2017 added 250,000.
Manufacturing jobs increased by 32,000 in December, 19,000 of which were generated from durable goods components. Over the year, Manufacturing employment has increased by 284,000 jobs with about seventy-five percent of which coming from durable goods. In 2017, the industry added 207,000 jobs.
Retail Trade rose by 24,000 jobs in December. Gains in this industry were largely offset by job loss in sporting goods, music and bookstores, and hobby stores with a loss of 9,000 jobs.