United States adds 312K new jobs in December 2018

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Almost all industry sectors benefited from the robust jobs in December, with health care and education leading the way by adding 82,000 to their payrolls.

Employers added a whopping 312,000 positions for the month, smashing economists' expectations, and wages rose steadily, gaining 3.2% for the year.

The unemployment rate rose to 3.9 percent, while the labor force participation rate also rose slightly to 63.1 percent from 62.9 percent during the month. The aggregate weekly payrolls index - a proxy for total personal incomes that combines average hourly earnings, average weekly hours, and employment - jumped by 0.9% supporting strong consumption growth at year-end.

Average hourly earnings rose 11 cents to $27.48 and increased 84 cents since December of 2017.

The strong employment report likely keeps the Federal Reserve on course to continue raising interest rate this year, deepening its rift with Wall Street and Trump, who has chastised the Fed and its chairman, Jerome Powell, repeatedly for the rate increases.

The unemployment rate nudged higher to 3.9 per cent, but is still near historic lows. It was the most jobs added since last February and the second-best month for job creation under the Trump Administration.

The ripple effects from slower growth overseas could eventually hurt the US economy, David Dollar, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told NPR's Scott Horsley. "This employment report suggests the USA economy still has considerable forward momentum".

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The health care, food services, construction and manufacturing sectors were the primary contributors to last month's hiring. In 2017, by comparison, manufacturing had added 207,000 jobs.

Job gains were reported across all industries, with the exception of the information sector, which shed employment for the second straight month. Hiring and wage gains will support consumer spending and offer some respite after a spate of weak economic data and cuts in corporate revenue forecasts fueled stock-market jitters.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who is from the opposition Democratic Party said while the latest jobs report is a good thing, the advantages would slip away due to the ongoing partial government shutdown.

The U.S. central bank raised rates four times in 2018. As workers continue to come off the sidelines, there also remain opportunities for sustained employment growth as we enter the new year. That is up from the almost 2.2 million jobs added in 2017, and marks the best year of job growth since 2015.

The economy grew at a 3.4 percent pace in the third quarter. Growth in federal, state and local government jobs, which had been picking up pace, tapered off. Job growth averaged 220,000 per month in 2018. More importantly, wage growth was concentrated among workers in lower-wage industries. Most of the gains occurred in blue-collar durable goods manufacturing, with growth in fabricated metals and computer and electronic products, the Labor Department said in its release. Retailers hired 23,800 more workers.

The economy needs to add 80,000 jobs a month just to maintain current staffing levels, said Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM, an global consulting firm.

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