The U.S. economy is still growing at a healthy pace.
While economists had projected 190,000 new jobs in December 2017, the U.S. added just 148,000 for the month, with some of the biggest gains in healthcare (31,000), construction (30,000) and manufacturing (25,000).
December 2017 is now the 87th straight month of jobs gains, and leaves the unemployment rate unchanged at 4.1% -- a 17-year low that supports the argument for full-employment.
However, retail jobs fell 20,000 for the month, which is a sign of retail struggles.
"A little bit of a disappointment when you only get 2,000 jobs out of the government and get retail at the absolute busiest time of the year losing 20,000 jobs. It just goes to show the true struggle that traditional brick and mortar is having now," said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade, as quoted by CNBC. "Outside of that I actually thought it was a good report."
Most impressive, manufacturing added a total of 196,000 jobs for the full year 2017.
That’s quite an improvement over 2016 when the U.S. lost 16,000 manufacturing jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in December 2015, there were 12,359,000 manufacturing jobs, but by December 2016, there were only12,343,000.
Economists also believe that we could see even more construction and manufacturing jobs added in the New Year if Donald Trump’s infrastructure plans become reality.
"If we see anything with infrastructure spending from Trump, we will get even more hiring and wage growth simply because of the shortage of workers in construction," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial, as quoted by CNN.
Average weekly earnings increased 2.5% over the last 12 months. Average hourly earnings were also up 0.3% month over month. Granted, that’s still a low number considering how low the unemployment rate currently is, but it’s difficult to argue against such strength.
Going forward, there should be further upside.
In fact, “unless employment slows dramatically, the unemployment rate will go to 3.5%" in 2019. That would be a 50-year low for the jobless rate,” notes Morningstar.
The Cheap Investor will keep you informed. Stay tuned.