Consecutive months of job growth reaches 87 in December

January 09, 2018

Keywords: Asset Management

Although the amount didn't quite meet economists' expectations, the jobs added to the economy were quite plentiful in December, to the surprise of no one and to the delight of investors on Wall Street.

Employers were in hiring mode in December, with jobs rising 148,000 in December on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Labor Department reported. This brought the overall number of jobs created in 2017 to well north of 2 million, The Wall Street Journal noted, marking the seventh consecutive year in which employment has exceeded the 2 million mark.

Economists expected at least 180,000 jobs
While certainly an encouraging figure, job growth came up shy of what economists had anticipated, having forecasted 180,000 positions would be created by employers, according to polling done by the Journal. Economists surveyed by Reuters expected 190,000. Financial experts polled by both organizations predicted the jobless rate would hold at 4.1 percent, which proved to be accurate.

Gad Levanon, chief economist at the Conference Board, noted the drop-off in jobs was significant between December and November - falling from 252,000 - but the employment train is bound to pick up steam.

"The overall labor market picture is brighter than this month's figure suggests, with average job growth exceeding 200,000 for the past three months and 170,000 for the past year," Levanon explained. "The underlying story is of a U.S. economy that has been significantly accelerating in recent quarters, which is leading to solid job growth."

Levanon further stated he fully expects the country's employment situation to improve even more so as the year progresses, which may make it harder for employers to find qualified candidates to fill openings as fewer and fewer Americans are out of work. In a separate survey conducted by CareerBuilder, 44 percent of business owners intend to hire more full-time staff in 2018. Much of this is due to their inability to find individuals with the appropriate skill sets for jobs that have either opened or created.

"The economy continues to be on solid footing," investment strategist Michael Arone told CNBC.

87 straight months of job growth
Hiring has most definitely hit its stride, having increased for 87 months in a row, The Wall Street Journal referenced. That's the longest consecutive winning streak for employers in recorded history, surpassing the previous uninterrupted run that started in 1986 and ended in 1990. Some of the biggest gains have come in key industries, including health care, construction and manufacturing. The same was true in December, as employment in the sector rose by roughly 25,000, according to the Department of Labor.

Investors on Wall Street made their delight known with an uptick in trading and stock valuations. All three indexes not only rose but also hit all-time highs, closing at 25,075 for the Dow Jones Industrial Average - up 152 points from the previous trading day - and to 2,723 for the Standard & Poor's 500. The Nasdaq also hit an unprecedented high, topping 7,077.

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