Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 252,000 in December, and the unemployment rate declined to 5.6 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. In 2014, job growth averaged 246,000 per month, compared with an average monthly gain of 194,000 in 2013. The rise in the employment rate and the falling jobless rate in December, capped the best year for the labor market since the 1999 Clinton economic boom and has reinforced the U.S. role as the global economy’s standout performer, reported Bloomberg. The jobless rate’s drop to 5.6 percent was the lowest level since June 2008.
Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at a major New York city bank told Bloomberg, “We have continued, solid job growth. It shows really solid momentum in U.S. growth. There are not a lot of places in the world where we see that these days.”
Jason Furman, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, was also excited about the upbeat report. “Today’s solid employment report caps off a strong year for the U.S. labor market, which achieved a number of important milestones in 2014. Total job growth last year was the strongest since 1999, while the unemployment rate fell at the fastest pace in three decades.”
Furman pointed out that the “Private sector has added 11.2 million jobs over 58 straight months of job growth, extending the longest streak on record.” Furman added, “Total employment rose by 2.95 million in 2014, the most in any calendar year since 1999.”
President Obama visited a manufacturing innovation hub, in Clinton, Tenn., and weighed in on the jobs report. “The key now is to make sure that growing prosperity and resurgence is reaching everybody, not just some,” the President said.
Other highlights from the jobs report is the decline in the unemployment rate by 0.2 percentage point to 5.6 percent in December, and the number of unemployed persons declined by 383,000 to 8.7 million. Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons were down by 1.1 percentage points and 1.7 million, respectively.
In December, employment increased in professional and business services, construction, food services and drinking places, health care, and manufacturing. Job gains occurred in professional and business services, construction, food services and drinking places, health care, and manufacturing.
Other highlights included:
- Employment in professional and business services rose by 52,000 in December.
- Construction added 48,000 jobs in December, well above the employment gains in recent months.
- In December, employment in food services and drinking places increased by 44,000.
- Health care added 34,000 jobs in December.
- In December, manufacturing employment increased by 17,000, with durable goods (+13,000) accounting for most of the gain.
In spite of the good jobs news and a brightening economy, U.S. stocks fell today after a two-day rally in the S&P 500 Index, as concern grew about Europe and its stimulus plan might not be work.
The S&P 500 Index fell 0.8 percent to 2,044.81 at 4 p.m. in New York. The loss sent the benchmark index 0.7 percent lower for the week. The Dow Average dropped 170.5 points, or 1 percent, to 17,737.37. About 6.3 billion shares traded hands on U.S. exchanges, 10 percent below the three-month average.