Non-farm Payroll Jobs Fall to 156K, Unemployment 4.7%

Non-farm Payroll Jobs Fall to 156K, Unemployment 4.7%

Though the unemployment rate has returned to its pre-recession level, the proportion of Americans in their prime working years who are either working or looking for work remains far below where it was before the recession began. The unemployment rate was at the lowest level to end a year since 2006, well down from the 7.8% level recorded when he took office in January 2009, during a deep recession, and from a peak of 10% early in his presidency. On the one hand, the US gained fewer jobs than expected: the economy added 156,000 jobs - around 20,000 to 30,000 fewer jobs than economists were expecting. It marked the 75th consecutive month of job gains, the best on record. Payrolls grew a moderate 156,000 in December.

Wages are showing their fastest gains since the last recession ended.

Manufacturing jobs totaled 12.275 million on a seasonally adjusted basis last month, up from a revised 12.258 million for November.

But for the 2016 calendar year, black Americans made solid progress.

Employment-population ratio: measures the proportion of the country's working-age population (ages 16 to 64) that is employed.

The unemployment rate rose by one-tenth of a percentage point to 4.7%, in line with economists' anticipation. Many analysts had predicted this would happen once the unemployment rate (U3) fell below 5%, and here we are.

"The big surprise, and what we found really reassuring, is the bump up in hourly earnings", said Beth Ann Bovino, chief USA economist at Standard & Poor's.

Health care led the way with 43,000 new jobs while bars and restaurants added 30,000. Some believe the Federal Reserve helped buoy the job market by keeping borrowing costs low in order to revive the housing market.

And while a shortage of workers, particularly for high-skilled jobs, is helping numerous chronically jobless land positions, a tepid economic recovery and post-recession caution still leads many employers to balk at hiring them.

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Brown and other job seekers are experiencing a market where companies really need workers but they're being very selective.

USA employers added 156,000 jobs in December, according to federal estimates published Friday morning.

"We're operating under a cloud of uncertainty at the moment, and we have to wait and see what changes occur and factor those into our decision-making as we gain more clarity", Fed Chair Janet Yellen said in a news conference.

Regardless of what policies a unified GOP White House and Congress roll out or what regulations they roll back, secular changes will continue to pose challenges, market observers caution.

Construction was essentially flat last month but added about 100,000 jobs for all of past year, only about a third of the hiring in 2015 and 2014.

At the same time, the declining work force also stood out. But the only real show in town is Donald Trump's inauguration. Retail had a rough month despite the holiday shopping season, however, adding just 6,000 jobs in December. Warehouses added 15,000 workers too.

The labor market ended 2016 on a positive note.

In an interview with a Chicago reporter yesterday, Obama said he has done "an enormous amount" to create greater economic opportunity for Americans.