News and Commentary

‘Trump Boom’ Makes History, Again, With Hispanic Unemployment

While the news out of Wall Street continues to be not so tweetable for President Trump, the Bureau of Labor Statistics unveiled some welcome numbers on Friday: Job growth surged by 312,000 in December. The “Trump Boom” economy also produced an historic number for Hispanics, who enjoyed record-low unemployment in December.

“Job creation ended 2018 on a powerful note, with nonfarm payrolls surging by 312,000 in December though the unemployment rate rose to 3.9 percent,” CNBC reports. While the jobless rate rose last month, CNBC notes, it “rose for the right reason as 419,000 new workers entered the workforce and the labor force participation rate increased to 63.1 percent.” Rising by 0.2% over November, the participation level ended the year at 0.4% higher than last year.

Along with the solid across-the-board numbers, Hispanic unemployment tied an all-time low in December. The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Hispanics and Latinos (aged 16+) dropped to 4.4%, down 0.1% from November and tying the record low first set in October, a number never before attained, dating all the way back to 1973 when BLS first began tracking the number.

Among the positive numbers for Hispanics is the demographic’s labor force participation rate, which climbed to 67% (29,963,000, up over 140,000 from the previous month) with the number of employed hitting 27,701,000 (up 177,000 from November). The number of unemployed dropped by 35,000 to 1,261,000.

Some other positive numbers for the economy as a whole include a 3.2% wage increase over a year ago (up 0.4% from November), which beats analysts’ expectations of 3% for the year. “Payroll employment rose by 2.6 million in 2018, compared with a gain of 2.2 million in 2017,” the BLS report notes.

The sector that saw the largest increase in jobs was health care (+50,000), followed by restaurants and bars (+41,000), construction (+38,000), manufacturing (+32,000), and retail (+24,000), while government also saw increases (+11,000). BLS provides more details (formatting adjusted):

Employment in health care rose by 50,000 in December. Within the industry, job gains occurred in ambulatory health care services (+38,000) and hospitals (+7,000). Health care added 346,000 jobs in 2018, more than the gain of 284,000 jobs in 2017.

In December, employment in food services and drinking places increased by 41,000. Over the year, the industry added 235,000 jobs, similar to the increase in 2017 (+261,000).

Construction employment rose by 38,000 in December, with job gains in heavy and civil engineering construction (+16,000) and nonresidential specialty trade construction (+16,000). The construction industry added 280,000 jobs in 2018, compared with an increase of 250,000 in 2017.

Manufacturing added 32,000 jobs in December. Most of the gain occurred in the durable goods component (+19,000), with job growth in fabricated metal products (+7,000) and in computer and electronic products (+4,000). Employment in the nondurable goods component also increased over the month (+13,000). Manufacturing employment increased by 284,000 over the year, with about three-fourths of the gain in durable goods industries. Manufacturing had added 207,000 jobs in 2017.

In December, employment in retail trade rose by 24,000. Job growth occurred in general merchandise stores (+15,000) and automobile dealers (+6,000). These gains were partially offset by a job loss in sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores (-9,000). Retail trade employment increased by 92,000 in 2018, after little net change in 2017 (-29,000).

Over the month, employment in professional and business services continued to trend up (+43,000). The industry added 583,000 jobs in 2018, outpacing the 458,000 jobs added in 2017.

“The far bigger than expected 312,000 jump in non-farm payrolls in December would seem to make a mockery of market fears of an impending recession,” said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, CNBC notes.

Read the full BLS report here.

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