Economy adds 156,000 jobs in December

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The U.S. economy added 156,000 jobs in December and the nation’s jobless rate rose slightly to 4.7 percent in the last employment report during President Obama’s term of office.

The Labor Department said job growth occurred in health care and social assistance.

Reuters said wages rebounded in December, although the increase in jobs was lower than expected. Bloomberg said the median forecast in its survey of economists was for a gain of 175,000 jobs.

“It’s a very strong job market overall,” Scott Brown, St. Petersburg, Fla.-based chief economist for Raymond James Financial Inc., told Bloomberg.

Brown had projected a gain of 155,000 jobs.

“There’s a further tightening in labor market conditions,” he added. “Wage pressures are certainly building and we should continue to see further upward pressure this year.”

Average hourly earnings increased 10 cents, or 0.4 percent, in December after slipping 0.1 percent in November. That boosted the year-over-year increase in earnings to 2.9 percent, the largest gain since June 2009, from 2.5 percent in November.

The economy added 2.16 million jobs during the year.

“Job creation and overall labor market conditions remain solid,” Jim Baird, chief investment officer for Plante Moran Financial Advisors in Kalamazoo, Mich., told Reuters. “With the potential for stronger fiscal stimulus in the form of infrastructure spending and tax cuts, job creation appears likely to remain on a solid footing in 2017.”

The government revised the job totals for the two previous months to show a net increase of 19,000 from the initial reports. The October total was revised downward from 142,000 to 135,000, and the November change was revised upward from 178,000 to 204,000.

The number of long-term unemployed people — those jobless for 27 weeks or more — was essentially unchanged, at 1.8 million, in December and accounted for 24.2 percent of the unemployed. During the year the number of long-term unemployed declined by 263,000.

The government said the number of people employed part time for economic reasons (also referred to as involuntary part-time workers), at 5.6 million, was essentially unchanged in December, but was down by 459,000 during the year. These people, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut or because they were unable to find a full-time job. In December, 1.7 million people were marginally attached to the labor force, little changed from a year earlier, the government said. The data are not seasonally adjusted. These people were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work and had looked for a job sometime during the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work during the four weeks that preceded the survey.

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