Jan 4, 2019 - Economy & Business

U.S. job growth surges to 312,000 in December

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The economy added 312,000 jobs in December, topping the 180,000 that economists were expecting, while the unemployment rate ticked up to 3.9%, the Labor Department said on Friday.

Why it matters: The final jobs report of 2018 saw even stronger wage growth and increased workforce participation. Both were previously missing factors that have puzzled economists with such a strong labor market.

Payrolls in November were revised higher to 176,000 from 155,000 and in October to 274,000 from 237,000.

  • A total of 2.6 million jobs were added in 2018 — the best showing since 2015.

What they're saying: "December’s strong performance quells any lingering feelings that a hiring plateau might have occurred from the impact of tariffs and recent market volatility," Steve Rick, chief economist at CUNA Mutual Group said.

  • "This is one of those prints that will transform the Fed debate. The case for a precautionary pause in normalizing rates is a lot weaker. The economy is doing well right now," tweeted University of Michigan economics professor Justin Wolfers.

The bottom line: This is an all-around strong jobs report and while it may calm concerns about the health of the economy, the backward-looking report says nothing about what will happen next year.

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