The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its final monthly Employment Situation Report of 2018, marking a great year for American workers and the economy as a whole.
USA employers went on a hiring spree in December, adding a surprising 312,000 jobs and providing a dose of reassurance about the economy after a turbulent few months on Wall Street.
Overall, labor market performance surpassed expectations in 2018, boosted by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and stronger-than-expected labor force growth, reflecting the elevated optimism of households about job-finding prospects. Since President Trump was elected in November 2016, the US economy has created 5 million jobs.
However, the jobs report does point to a steadily growing economy, with the most new jobs created in health care, construction, and the restaurant industry. Manufacturing has been a bright spot since President Trump's election, and now averages 20,000 new jobs per month compared to 8,000 per month in the four years prior.
Hicks says revisions from earlier months also added 58,000 jobs in October and November.
Almost three-quarters of the "education and health services" jobs advance originated in "health care and social assistance" (+58,000 jobs). Courier and messenger employment is still over 9% higher than it was at this point previous year and is one of the fastest growing industries in the entire economy.
Construction added 38,000 jobs in December, with gains in heavy and civil engineering and nonresidential specialty trade construction.
Among the unemployed, the number of job leavers - unemployed people who immediately look for new work upon departure - increased by 142,000 in December to 839,000. 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. This is one of the most important - and underappreciated - labor market developments in recent years that explains the stronger-than-expected job growth and moderate wage growth numbers.
Private analysts had projected that jobs would grow by about 180,000 and that unemployment would stay at November's rate of 3.7 percent. The labor force participation rate rose to 63.1%.
Past year started with an unemployment rate of 4.1 percent. That lifted the annual increase in wages to 3.2 percent, matching October's gain, from 3.1 percent in November.
The strength of the labor market in 2018 also was widespread, affecting people of all backgrounds and education levels throughout the nation.
The good news didn't stop with that demographic either. Record low unemployment rates were also achieved this year for African Americans (5.9 percent in May), Asians (2.2 percent in May), and individuals with less than a high school degree (5.0 percent in July).
Unemployment dipped as low as 3.7 percent in 2018, the lowest mark since 1969. This marks the eighth consecutive month with positive job growth and puts trucking employment 2.5% higher than at this point past year.
The robust labour market, especially strengthening wage growth, suggests the economy will continue to expand this year despite the ebb in consumer confidence, continued weakness in the housing market and cooling manufacturing activity.