Hiring Slows in December As Employers Add Just 145,000 Jobs

January 10, 2020 by Dan McCue
(Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON — Employers slowed their hiring in December, adding just 145,000 jobs, the Labor Department said Friday.

Though the unemployment rate held at 3.5%, matching a 50-year low for the second straight month, Friday’s report suggests continued weakness in the nation’s manufacturing sector.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been expecting a job growth number of 160,000, while a Reuters survey of economists had them forecasting a rise of 164,00 jobs.

Despite the modest growth in hiring in December, The Conference Board, a think tank that closely follows these reports continues to believe the labor market is in a healthy state.

The strength of the labor market will also factor into Donald Trump’s re-election chances in November, as the president has repeatedly touted economic gains as a reason he deserves a second term.

December’s drop off comes after a robust gain of 256,000 jobs in November, though that gain was attributed in part to the end of a 40-day strike by the United Auto Workers at General Motors.

Friday’s report also noted that while unemployment remains low, it has yet to result in higher hourly wages.

The pace of annual average wage growth slowed in December to 2.9% from 3.1% in the prior month, a possible sign that there is still room for additional job gains despite the economic expansion that began in the early years of President Barack Obama’s first term.

The U.S. economy added 2.1 million jobs last year, the slowest rate of hiring since 2011, and down from gains of nearly 2.7 million in 2018.

Economists suggest hiring may have slowed because the number of unemployed people seeking work has fallen by 540,000 people over the past year to 5.75 million.

With fewer unemployed people hunting for jobs, there is a potential limit on job gains.

In December, manufacturers cut 12,000 jobs, weighing down the month’s numbers. Overall, factories added just 46,000 jobs in all of 2019.

Manufacturing struggled last year because of trade tensions between the United States and China coupled with slower global economic growth. Safety problems at Boeing, related to its 737 Max aircraft, have also hurt orders for aircraft and parts.

For all this, there was some good news in Friday’s report: The leisure and hospitality sector — which includes restaurants and hotels — added 40,000 jobs. Health care and social assistance accounted for 33,900 new jobs.

Also looking up was a separate, more encompassing measure that includes discouraged and underemployed workers. It fell to 6.7%, the lowest it’s ever been in records going back to 1994.

Revisions to previous jobs reports subtracted 14,000 jobs from the prior two months, bringing the three-month average to 184,000, the smallest since July. Private employment rose by 139,000 and government payrolls increased by 6,000.

Pompeo Bars NPR Reporter From His Plane
In The News
Pompeo Bars NPR Reporter From His Plane

WASHINGTON — Following an unusually acrimonious exchange between Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and a senior journalist with National Public Radio, the State Department has barred the broadcaster’s representative from traveling with him as part of a reporting pool on his next trip abroad. The... Read More

House Democrats Are Making McConnell — Not Trump — Their Boogeyman
Congress
House Democrats Are Making McConnell — Not Trump — Their Boogeyman

WASHINGTON — While Democrats in Washington are attacking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s management of the impeachment trial, it’s his role in blocking House-passed legislation that is getting the most campaign airtime so far this year. The latest example, and a likely preview of what is... Read More

Tears, Fear and Panic Grip China as Coronavirus Spreads
Health
Tears, Fear and Panic Grip China as Coronavirus Spreads

BEIJING — The man burst out with a shout at the last second as medical workers boarded a bus headed to Wuhan: “Wang Yuehua, I love you!” He sobbed, gasping, as his wife joined an emergency response team headed to the deadly new coronavirus that has... Read More

US Justice Department Going After Robocallers
In The News
US Justice Department Going After Robocallers

They are the scourge of telephone solicitors, and federal authorities are going after robocallers in a big way, launching landmark lawsuits against five companies and three people behind hundreds of millions of annoying interruptions. Not only are the calls viewed as a nuisance, but they are... Read More

Rainy Days Ahead: States Boost Reserves, Anticipating Slowdown
State News
Rainy Days Ahead: States Boost Reserves, Anticipating Slowdown

As the longest economic expansion in American history continued last year, state governments increased salaries for teachers and other public employees, authorized new construction projects and — recognizing good times won’t last forever — added to reserve funds. Cash reserves could become more important this year,... Read More

Panel of Federal Judges Asks Tough Questions About Florida Measure on Felon Voting Rights
State News
Panel of Federal Judges Asks Tough Questions About Florida Measure on Felon Voting Rights

ATLANTA — Three federal judges hearing a legal challenge to a Florida measure allowing felons to vote asked tough questions of the attorney for Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday, repeatedly asking about the fairness of a subsequent bill that levied what critics called a “poll tax.”... Read More

Straight From The Well
scroll top