STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

US economy adds 145,000 jobs in December

The US economy added 145,000 jobs in December, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday.Although the headline number slightly missed economists' exp...

Posted: Jan 11, 2020 4:56 AM

The US economy added 145,000 jobs in December, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday.

Although the headline number slightly missed economists' expectations, the unemployment rate remained steady at 3.5%, a historic low. Over the past three months, an average of 184,000 new positions were added per month.

December's jobs total was nearly 100,000 jobs fewer than in November, when workers returning from the General Motors strike boosted numbers. Hiring remained strong: As long as 100,000 jobs or more are added each month, the economy can keep up with new workers joining the labor force, Nela Richardson, investment strategist at Edward Jones, told CNN Business.

All in all, US employment rose by 2.1 million jobs in 2019, below the prior year's 2.7 million gain.

"In our view, the labor markets stays healthy in 2020, but job growth will level off," Richardson added.

"While job growth on average slowed in 2019 relative to 2018, and may slow further in 2020, if employment continues to grow steadily after the tenth year of economic expansion, it would still paint a relatively robust picture, and support US consumer strength," said Robard Williams, senior vice president at Moody's Investors Service.

Paychecks and Fed expectations

Paychecks rose less than expected in December, climbing only 0.1%. For the year, that puts wage growth at 2.9%, less than the expected 3.1%.

The good news is that inflation in America is also low, so even tepid growth in salaries helps household incomes rise. That is good for the economy, two-thirds of which is driven by consumer spending.

The Federal Reserve, which cut interest rates three times last year to boost the economy, is expected to keep monetary policy steady in 2020. With little inflation to worry about, this forecast seems realistic.

"The Fed seems comfortable with its neutral stance and will hold rates for the foreseeable future," circa three to six months, said Minh Trang, senior FX trader at Silicon Valley Bank.

Pros and cons

The report was filled with bright spots: The retail sector went on a particularly strong hiring spree in December, thanks to a very strong holiday shopping season. A total of 41,000 retail jobs were added last month.

For the year as a whole, the number of underemployed people -- those who would prefer a full-time job but can only find part-time work -- fell by more than half a million people. It was little changed in December.

Yet jobs continue to evaporate in America's battered manufacturing sector, which has struggled during the US-China trade war. The industry lost 12,000 jobs, compared with an expected increase of 5,000 new positions during the month.

During 2019, the sector added 46,000 jobs, less than a fifth of the 2018 number.

Construction was another sector that had a challenging year. Only 151,000 new building jobs were added in 2019, about half the prior year's gains.

While mortgage rates remain low and incomes are rising, home building is being limited by material costs and a shortage of workers. The tight labor market is one piece of that puzzle. So is immigration policy.

"It hasn't been a hospitable environment for migrant workers, which have boosted housing booms in the past," said Richardson, the Edward Jones strategist.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 207558

Reported Deaths: 2760
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah40446614
Washington26850249
Marion23497324
Clackamas18981235
Lane13944166
Jackson11581146
Deschutes1005582
Umatilla862787
Linn565381
Yamhill479479
Klamath478278
Polk402056
Douglas391683
Josephine363872
Malheur362063
Benton327522
Jefferson237839
Coos217737
Columbia193029
Union150224
Wasco145630
Lincoln144021
Crook129523
Hood River121933
Morrow115816
Clatsop10639
Baker103115
Curry73211
Tillamook6614
Grant5527
Lake4698
Harney4369
Wallowa1945
Gilliam811
Sherman701
Wheeler351
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3812825

Reported Deaths: 63501
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles124841524472
Riverside3017994627
San Bernardino2994254886
San Diego2820523778
Orange2731705116
Santa Clara1202332199
Kern1108471405
Sacramento1080131738
Fresno1030201724
Alameda898911286
Ventura817271032
San Joaquin748081440
Contra Costa70882813
Stanislaus635861071
Tulare49823850
Monterey43858456
San Mateo42756581
San Francisco37304559
Santa Barbara34631455
Solano33797267
Merced32325481
Sonoma31026317
Imperial28908741
Placer23656300
Kings23214247
San Luis Obispo21448261
Madera16660245
Santa Cruz16262209
Marin14212230
Yolo14161212
Butte12666198
Shasta12615235
El Dorado10423117
Napa1003280
Sutter9676113
Yuba652151
San Benito611163
Lassen580825
Tehama574263
Nevada493675
Humboldt452849
Mendocino435750
Tuolumne422271
Amador374347
Lake356653
Glenn243727
Siskiyou239938
Colusa228818
Calaveras221056
Del Norte14688
Inyo143438
Mono12984
Plumas7426
Modoc5645
Mariposa4667
Trinity4246
Sierra1180
Alpine890
Unassigned330
Medford
Partly Cloudy
63° wxIcon
Hi: 98° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 63°
Brookings
Cloudy
53° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 53°
Crater Lake
Partly Cloudy
63° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 63°
Grants Pass
Partly Cloudy
63° wxIcon
Hi: 101° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 63°
Klamath Falls
Partly Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 46°
Dangerously hot weekend ahead
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events