|01-09-2015, 11:26 PM||#1|
December ends best year for job gains in 15 years but wages lag behind
The U.S. economy created more jobs than forecast in December and unemployment fell to 5.6%, marking the end of the best year since 1999 for the U.S. job market.
The Labor Department reported payrolls added 252,000 in December, after a 353,000 addition that was higher than initially thought. Analysts by Bloomberg estimated payrolls of 240,000.
Revisions for the prior two months added a total of 50,000 jobs to overall payrolls.
With a total gain of 2.95 million workers in 2014, it was the strongest in 15 years, indicating that companies have confidence in economic growth in the U.S. even with continued weakness overseas.
The 5.6% jobless rate was the lowest level seen since June 2008. The labor force participation rate fell however.
Job gains were broad-based in December, with construction adding 48,000 workers, the most since January 2014.
Although the report showed the momentum in hiring is still strong, it was not that all good news as wage growth surprisingly fell in December and at a sharp rate.
Average hourly earnings fell 0.2%, the largest drop since comparable records started in 2006. For a yearly basis, earnings rose 1.7% over the last 12 months, the smallest increase since October 2012.
Even so, consumer spending should not lag. Strong job growth and cheaper energy prices should keep consumer spending sustained.
Also, earners at the lowest end of the income ladder have a good outlook. Legislatures enacted laws to increase in the minimum wage in nearly half of U.S. states on January 1, and those advances should be seen in the wage data of this month’s jobs report in the first Friday of February.
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