The numbers are in for the final Jobs Report of the decade, and the BLS reported job gains of 145,000 throughout the month of December. As a result, 2019 was the ninth straight year of annual employment gains surpassing 2 million. Despite missing economists’ estimates of 164,000 job gains, the unemployment rate has remained a steady 3.5 percent (a half-century low) over the last three months. In other words, the labor market is holding steady as we enter the new year.
December 2019 Jobs Report breakdown
December also marks the 111th month in a row of job gains. With the addition of 145,000 jobs last month, employment rose to 2.1 million throughout 2019. And although short of economists’ projections, Michael Pearce, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics, labeled last month’s job growth as “solid” even though it missed estimates and said, “We expect solid gains in payrolls to extend through 2020.” And if that isn’t impressive enough for you, jobless claims fell for a 4th week in a row to 214,000, which is back near post-recession lows.
Over the previous two months, employment gains from the previous two months were slightly revised down by 14,000 jobs. Job gains in October were revised down by 4,000 (from +156,000 to +152,000) and gains from November decreased by 10,000 jobs (from +266,000 to +255,000). However, over the last three months, employment gains are averaging 184,000 per month. And over the last 12 months, the economy added an average of 176,000 jobs a month in 2019.
Average hourly earnings continued to rise with an increase of $0.03, for a total hourly rate of $28.32. Over the last 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 2.9 percent – the lowest annual pace since July 2018. Additionally, the labor force participation rate remained little changed at 63.2 percent. Overall, the labor market is primed for another big year as we enter a new decade.
Job gains by industry
Here is a break down of the nonfarm payroll job gains for the month of December:
- Retail Trade: +41,000 jobs
- Clothing and Accessories Stores: +33,000 jobs
- Building Material & Garden Supply: +7,000
- Leisure and Hospitality: +40,000 (+359,000 jobs over the last 12 months)
- Healthcare: +28,000 (+399,000 over the last 12 months)
- Ambulatory Healthcare Services: +23,000
- Hospitals: +9,000
- Construction: +20,000 (+151,000 jobs over the last 12 months)
- Professional and Business Services: +10,000 (+397,000 jobs over the last 12 months)
- Mining: -8,000 (-24,000 jobs over the last 12 months)
- Transportation and Warehousing: -10,000 (+57,000 jobs over the last 12 months)
- Manufacturing: -12,000 (+46,000 jobs over the last 12 months)
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All signs are indicating that 2020 will be another strong year of growth for the U.S. economy labor force. If you had struggles filling your critical roles and sourcing skilled candidates in 2019, you’ll likely face the same challenges in the new year. If you want to get a kickstart on your hiring efforts this year, partner with a recruiter. At JSG, we have a team of recruiters ready to partner with your organization to source the talent you need to have another successful year in 2020. Reach out to us today, and let’s get to work!