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US economy added 148,000 jobs in December

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The US economy added 148,000 jobs in December (the 87th consecutive month of job growth) and the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.1 percent for the third month straight.

The figure was below what economists polled by Reuters had forecast of 190,000 new jobs. However, “it’s still way ahead of what the economy needs to keep up with the new, slow rate of working-age population growth,” Jed Kolko, the chief economist for job-search site Indeed, was quoted by SFGate as saying.

Job gains averaged 204,000 over the last three months.

December’s biggest job gains were in the healthcare, construction, and manufacturing sectors.

Employment in health care increased by 31,000 in December, while construction added 30,000 jobs and manufacturing employment rose by 25,000. Bars and restaurants added 25,000 jobs, while professional and business services employment rose by 19,000.

Average hourly earnings rose for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 9 cents to $26.63. Over the year, average hourly earnings increased by 65 cents or 2.5 percent.

The average workweek remained unchanged at 34.5 hours in December.

The unemployment rate in December was 3.8 percent among adult men, 3.7 percent for adult women, 3.7 percent for Whites, 6.8 percent for Blacks, 2.5 percent for Asians and 4.9% for Hispanics.

The report covers President Trump’s first year in office. In 2017, payroll employment growth reached 2.1 million, compared with a gain of 2.2 million in 2016. The unemployment rate dropped by 0.6 percent (a reflection of 926,000 fewer unemployed persons) over the year. The data suggests that the economy has performed well during Trump’s first year.

Although it’s too early to determine the effects on the economy that the corporation tax cuts made last month have had, Trump’s efforts to cut regulations on businesses appear to have made companies more inclined to invest in machinery and plants which is the kind of corporate spending that helps drive economic growth.

Source: Employment Situation Summary, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics