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Job creation neither surprises nor disappoints

US Jobs Report – December 2016

Job creation neither surprises nor disappoints

On Friday, January 6, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly employment situation report for December, which is a widely used indicator for the health of the labor market. The December report met with slightly lower than expected job growth as the labor market expanded driving the unemployment rate a tad higher.

Key Insights:

  • U.S. adds 156,000 new jobs in December while wages surge to a 7-year high
  • The unemployment rate edged up to 4.7% as more people entered the labor force in search of work
  • The labor force participation rate ticked up slightly to 62.7%
  • The size of the labor force increased by 184,000
  • 3rd-quarter GDP picked up the pace expanding at an annual rate of 3.5%, the best quarterly advance in two years

In 2016, employment growth averaged 180,000 jobs per month, compared with an average monthly increase of 229,000 in 2015. In December, employment gains occurred in health care and social assistance.

Employment in health care rose by 43,000 in December and has risen by 422,000 over the year. Most of the increase occurred in ambulatory health care services (+30,000) and hospitals (+11,000). Health care added an average of 35,000 jobs per month in 2016, roughly in line with the average monthly gain of 39,000 in 2015.

Social assistance added 20,000 jobs in December, reflecting job growth in individual and family services (+21,000). Social assistance added an average of 8,000 jobs per month in 2016, slightly below the average monthly gain of 14,000 in 2015.

Employment in food services and drinking places continued to trend up in December (+30,000). Food services and drinking places added an average of 21,000 jobs per month in 2016, fewer than the average monthly gain of 30,000 in 2015.

Employment also continued to trend up in transportation and warehousing in December (+15,000). Within the industry, employment expanded by 12,000 in couriers and messengers. In 2016, transportation and warehousing added an average of 5,000 jobs per month, down from an average monthly gain of 9,000 jobs in 2015.

Employment in financial activities continued on an upward trend in December (+13,000). This is in line with the average monthly gains for the industry over the past 2 years.

In December, employment edged up in manufacturing (+17,000), with a gain of 15,000 in the durable goods component. However, since reaching a recent peak in January, manufacturing employment has declined an average of 4,000 jobs per month in 2016.

Employment in professional and business services was little changed in December (+15,000), following an increase of 65,000 in November. The industry added an average of 44,000 jobs per month in 2016, fewer than the average monthly gain of 52,000 in 2015.

Employment in other major industries, including mining, construction, wholesale trade, retail trade, information, and government, changed little in December.

Want to know more about the top trends in the job market? Check out the US Labor Market Update from Monster Intelligence.