US adds huge 312,000 jobs in December; unemployment rises to 3.9%


4th January, 2019 08:20:49 printer

US adds huge 312,000 jobs in December; unemployment rises to 3.9%

US job creation rocketed higher last month, a jolt of unexpected good news for President Donald Trump as his economic agenda comes under increasing strain.


Employers added a whopping 312,000 positions for the month, smashing economists' expectations, and wages rose steadily, gaining 3.2 percent for the year.


The unemployment rate ticked up by two-tenths of a point to 3.9 percent, but that was due mostly to more workers joining the job hunt, according to the closely-watched report.


And net job gains in October and November were revised up a combined 58,000, the Labor Department said.


The blockbuster US jobs numbers starkly contrasted with the mounting fears for the global economy of recent weeks -- which have seen stock prices tumble and confidence wane among corporations who foresee slowing demand and weakening sales in 2019.


The reminder that while Wall Street may be ailing the real economy is chugging along was sure to delight Trump.


However, the added evidence of an economy at full employment could add to the case for the Federal Reserve to continue to raise interest rates this year, something Trump has aggressively and publicly complained about.


The president faces protracted political battles in 2019 and could be weakened if his stewardship of the economy is seen to falter amid a government shutdown and a stinging trade war with China.


For the year, job creation rose to a monthly average of 220,000 positions, far higher than the 182,000 recorded in 2017 but lower than averages in 2014 and 2015.


Hiring jumped in healthcare, bars and restaurants, construction and, notably in manufacturing, especially for durable goods, fabricated metal products and computers and electronics -- all sectors that complain of lower profits and lost sales due to global trade tensions.