USA Today took note of the new jobs report:
The labor market bounced back resoundingly in December as employers added 312,000 jobs despite stock market turmoil and increasing worker shortages, easing fears of a looming recession.
The unemployment rate rose from a 50-year low of 3.7 percent to 3.9 percent as an additional 419,000 Americans began working or looking for jobs, many of them drawn in to the labor force by a strong job market, the, the Labor Department said Friday.
Economists expected 181,000 job gains, according to a Bloomberg survey.
Also encouraging: Payroll increases for October and November were revised up by a total 58,000. October’s was revised from 155,000 to 176,000 and November’s, from 237,000 to 274,000.
An armada of worries have stirred concerns about the economy and pulled down stocks in recent months, including Federal Reserve interest rate hikes, the Trump administration’s trade war with China and a slowing global economy. The strong jobs report to close out 2018 comes as a welcome balm.
The unemployment rate rose very slightly to 3.9 percent, which is still the lowest end of year rate since 2000.
The report for December also saw a 3.2% uptick in wages ( both hourly and weekly). At some points during the year, it looked as if it was going to be higher. This is still the best close of year for wages in more than a decade.
A Wall Street Journal analysis of the new numbers (it goes point by point and is highly recommended) has this quote:
Investors have increasingly been mentioning the r-word recently, but Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, says in a note that Friday’s report should ease those short-term worries.
“The far bigger-than-expected 312,000 jump in non-farm payrolls in December would seem to make a mockery of market fears of an impending recession.
For two years now, my liberal, anti-Trump friends have been furrowing their brows and explaining to me that I “just don’t know how bad the economy really is.” I can’t imagine that today’s glowing jobs report affects their view in the least.
There was one bit of seriously disheartening news in the new jobs report, however:
After shrinking for years, the educational divide has been widening in recent months. Since July, unemployment has climbed to 5.8% from 5.1% for those without a high-school diploma. For those with a college degree, it has slightly declined to 2.1% from 2.2%.
This year we need to devote more energy to bringing back opportunity for Americans who are not college educated. Hint: the solution isn’t necessarily going to college. Assignment: Read Oren Cass’ new book, The Once and Future Worker: A Vision for the Renewal of Work in America.