Dec 8, 2017

The great American jobs machine chugs along

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy added 228,000 new jobs in November, while the unemployment rate stayed firm at 4.1%, the Labor Department said Friday.

  • Manufacturing job growth led the way in November, adding 33,000 new jobs, and bringing the total new manufacturing jobs in 2017 to 189,000.
  • Even the battered retail sector added more than 18,000 new jobs, bringing employment in that sector to levels not seen since March.

Why it matters: As lawmakers rush to pass tax reform aimed at goosing the economy, the jobs market is running as hot or hotter than any time in the past decade.

One puzzling thing: Wage growth still remains muted, even with rock bottom unemployment. As economist Justin Wolfers frames it:

The key puzzle remains: With unemployment this low, why aren't we seeing faster nominal wage growth? Suggests that the economy still has room to run without igniting inflation.— Justin Wolfers (@JustinWolfers) December 8, 2017

Implications for the Fed: Incoming Fed Chair Jerome Powell will have to navigate this vexing question as the central bank attempts to steer interest rates higher without puncturing the economic recovery.

Go deeper

An unsettling future for millions of American jobs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The U.S. economy is besting expectations for job growth, and the unemployment rate is at its lowest in several decades — but the other side of the story is that millions of jobs out there just aren't good enough.

Why it matters: Almost half of all American workers are stuck in low-wage jobs that often don't pay enough to support their lives, lack benefits and sit squarely inside the automation bullseye.

Unemployment fell to 50-year low in 2019 but wages stagnated

Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

Friday's jobs report missed expectations, but still delivered solid numbers, showing the U.S. economy added well over 100,000 jobs and the unemployment rate remained near a 50-year low.

The big picture: BLS reported that the number of people who were employed part time but would rather be full-time employees declined by 507,000 over the year.

Growing divide between the two Americas

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Life in the U.S. is increasingly divided into two realities — one in which things have almost never been better and another in which it's hard to imagine them being worse.

Driving the news: Bankruptcies led more companies to announce job cuts last year than at any time in more than a decade, WSJ's Aisha Al-Muslim reports (subscription), citing data from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas.

Go deeperArrowJan 3, 2020