Economy Adds 148k Jobs in December; Unemployment Rate remains 4.1% Earnings Growth Falters

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist


  • Number of payroll jobs INCREASED 148,000 in December compared with working age population growth of 160,000 per Bureau of Labor Statistics report for December;
  • Prior month job totals REVISED DOWN net 11,000: DOWN 17,000 in November to a gain of 211,000 (from the initial report of a 228,000 increase) but UP 6,000 in October to a revised growth of 252,000 jobs (from 244,000);
  • Average weekly earnings ROSE $3.11 to $918.74, a 2.8 percent year-year gain DOWN from November’s 3.0 percent year-year growth;
  • Unemployment rate in December remained at 4.1 percent;
  • The number of persons holding multiple jobs ROSE 305,000 in December after a gain of 133,000 in November;
  • The labor force (the sum of employed and unemployed) ROSE 64,000 in December;
  • Labor force participation rate – a key determinant of economic growth – was UNCHANGED from November at 62.7 percent
  • Employment GREW 104,000 in December; unemployment DECREASED 40,000;
  • The number of persons not in the labor force ROSE 96,000 in December;
  • Average workweek REMAINED at 34.5 hours unchanged from November;
  • Private sector payrolls ROSE 146,000 in November;
  • Employment-Population ratio remained at 60.1 percent;
  • Number of construction jobs INCREASED 30,000, with 17,000 new residential construction jobs continuing to reflect the rebuild following hurricanes Harvey and Irma;
  • Health care and leisure-hospitality jobs each INCREASED 29,000 in December;
  • Number of retail jobs FELL 20,000 – following an increase of 16,000 in November;
  • Number of temporary jobs INCREASED 7,000 in December.

Image result for employment report


  • Average monthly increase in payroll jobs in 2017 was 171,000, down from 187,000 in 2016 signaling a slowdown in labor growth.
  • Average number of new entrants to the labor force was 692,000 in 2017, down from 819.000 in 2016; Number of re-entrants 2,078 in 2017, down from 2,039 in 2016 suggesting a tighter labor market;
  • Average monthly increase in weekly wages was $2.09 in 2017, up from $1.85 in 2016, due to slower increase in low-paying retail and leisure and hospitality jobs in 2017.
  • Number of new payroll jobs grew faster than the working age population in seven of the 12 months in 2017; jobs grew faster than population in only five months of 2016;
  • Average monthly growth in employment was 149,000 in 2017, down from 192,000 in 2016;
  • Average monthly growth in full-time employment was 206,000 in 2017, up from 137,000 in 2016;

Hear Mark Lieberman every Friday morning at 6:20 am on The Morning Briefing on POTUS on Sirius-XM 124. You can follow Mark Lieberman on Twitter at @foxeconomics.

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