Jan 04, 2019

Putting U.S. Employment Numbers in Context – December 2018

Post by Freedom Partners

This morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the economy gained 312,000 jobs in December 2018, beating expectations and the largest gain since February, while the U.S. unemployment rate rose to 3.9 percent largely because individuals entered the workforce in search of jobs. Overall, the economy added 219,800 jobs per month during 2018 and year-over-year wages increased by 3.2 percent matching the largest gain since April 2009. Additionally, jobs gains in November and October were revised up by a collective 58,000.

With the labor market at its strongest in decades, today’s report continues to highlight the benefits of enacting pro-growth policies like tax reform and continued regulatory relief. Over the past two years, average hourly earnings for all private sector employees rose nearly 6 percent, signaling a strong turnaround for workers after years of stagnant wage growth. Additionally, the economy gained more than 4.5 million jobs, at an average rate of 198,565 jobs per month, while the unemployment rate dropped 0.8 percentage points. The largest private sector job gains were seen in education and health services, as well as professional and business services.

However, tariffs on goods imported into the U.S. threaten to undermine continued job growth and the overall labor market – they are already costing businesses and consumers more. One estimate showed that nearly 36 million U.S. jobs were supported by trade in 2016. Tariffs benefit only a few politically connected industries at the expense of most consumers and businesses. Lowering trade barriers will improve lives by growing the economy, increasing pay checks, and creating new and better jobs.

Below is a deeper look at the numbers from today’s report and what they say about the state of the U.S. labor market.