U.S. Adds 148,000 Jobs During December

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Labor released the figures for the monthly jobs report showing that in December 148,000 new jobs were added in the country marking the 87th straight month of job growth in the U.S.

The average for the last three months is 204,000 new jobs per month while the unemployment rate remained flat at 4.1% for December. Average earnings per hour grew 9 cents and sits at $26.63. For 2017, hourly earnings increased by 2.5% compared to the prior year.

The monthly gain in jobs for December was below what was added most of the year and below the estimated 190,000 by economists for the month.

For the full year, the job growth in 2017 was less than it was in 2016, under then-President Barack Obama. Most economists have the opinion that presidents do not determine the course the economy takes, but President Donald Trump has taken much of the credit for the job increases of 2017.

Many eyes were on the change in earnings for December. For the full year, workers in leisure and hospitality and financial services saw the largest wage increases during the year, with each group seeing increasing of nearly 3.6%.

However, more widespread growth in wages may be on the way. In areas that have seen a dip in unemployment below the current national average, pay has started to increase.

Cities where the rate of unemployment is 3.5% or less have witnessed an increase of 4% in annual earnings, say economists.

Over the past few months, industries performing better than others include manufacturing and construction. After a poor 2016, the manufacturing sector added more than 196,000 new jobs during 2017. Construction increased payrolls by more than 210,000 in 2017.

Manual labor are the types of jobs that President Trump promised to return to the U.S. in large numbers, so that increase last year could be helpful to him and his supporters politically.

The world in general is amidst a strong recovery helping to drive the increase in the U.S. in blue-collar jobs. One economist said, the upturn in manufacturing is global, it is taking place everywhere and credit cannot be taken in the U.S. for upswings in the economy of China and Europe.

However, retail ended 2017 in a big slump. Retailers are huge employers nationwide, but have struggled because of the rise in e-commerce. Despite a strong holiday shopping season, the sector slashed more than 67,000 jobs during 2017.

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