Healthcare job growth picks up; 7,400 hospital positions added in December

Ivan Schwartz
January 7, 2019

Jobless claims ended the year around the lowest levels since the late 1960s, when the USA population was about 62% of its current size.

Nonfarm payrolls probably increased by 177,000 jobs last month, according to a Reuters survey of economists, after rising 155,000 in November. For the first 11 months of 2018, the USA economy added an average of 206,000 jobs a month. Data for October and November were revised to show 58,000 more jobs added than previously reported. Earnings rose at the fastest yearly pace in nine years, increasing 3.2 percent from the year before.

Job-gain estimates in Bloomberg survey range from 160,000 to 225,000.

That's still lower than it was a year ago, when the jobless rate was 4.1 percent and there were 6.6 million unemployed workers.

Wages advanced 3.1 percent on a year-on-year basis in November.

In addition to the tariffs, which have raised input costs for manufacturers, factory activity is also being undercut by a strong dollar, a shortage of skilled workers, a fading fiscal stimulus and slowing growth in economies like China.

"There is no preset path for policy and particularly with the muted inflation readings that we've seen coming in, we will be patient as we watch to see how the economy evolves", Powell said at the American Economic Association's annual meeting in Atlanta.

"The Trump economy is making America great again as the government dependency cycle is being broken more and more each day through the best social program invented - a real, productive, meaningful job", said Rick Manning, the president of Americans for Limited Government, in a statement Friday on the jobs numbers.

Barring a big miss relative to estimates or major revisions to prior months' data, the December jobs gain is likely to push total USA employment above 150 million jobs for the first time. Fewer workers worked part-time for economic reasons in December.

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The central bank said on Friday, after a work meeting, that it would keep liquidity reasonably ample, and market interest rates steady.

US financial markets are projecting no rate hikes in 2019.

"This should, at least for today, mute expectations that the Fed is off the table completely this year", said Omair Sharif, a senior economist at Societe Generale in NY.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) survey published on Thursday offered a downbeat assessment of the manufacturing sector, with nearly all components declining last month.

The ISM's new orders sub-index plunged 11 points to 51.1 last month, the lowest reading since August 2016.

The U.S. government shutdown and Trump's attacks on the Fed and its chairman over the central bank's rate increases have also anxious investors, though Powell may have eased some of those concerns Friday when he stressed that he would not resign if the president told him to do so.

Businesses are still searching for more workers. The latest monthly jobs shows that the economic weakness causing stock markets to drop isn't yet visible in the employment figures.

Despite other data showing a slowdown in manufacturing, the nation's factories added 32,000 jobs in December. Retail employment increased by 23,800 jobs.

Professional and business services employment increased by 43,000 jobs last month and government payrolls rose 11,000.

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