Washington : The US economy added 148,000 jobs in December after a year of steady hiring, according to the figures released on Friday by the Labour Department on hiring and unemployment.
The jobless rate stayed at 4.1 per cent last month, the lowest point since 2001, with healthcare and professional services driving much of the past year’s gains.
In a Twitter post on Wednesday, US President Donald Trump pointed to the 4.1 per cent unemployment rate as evidence that the economy was “only getting better!”. When he took office last January, the rate was 4.8 per cent.
Wages continued their slow climb, rising by 9 cents. That’s a 2.5 per cent increase since December 2016 (and still below pre-recession levels), the Washington Post reported, citing the figures.
Retail lost 20,000 jobs in December, according to an estimate by the Bureau of Labour Statistics, capping a year of shrinkage in the sector. About 67,000 positions vanished from stores in 2017, compared a stretch of growth (203,000 jobs) in 2016.
Manufacturing, though, saw strong gains (25,000). The industry added 196,000 jobs last year, compared to a loss of 16,000 positions in 2016.
“There’s almost one job open for every unemployed person,” said Dan North, chief economist at Euler Hermes North America, a credit insurance firm.
There are now six million vacancies in the US and 6.6 million unemployed people. From January to November, the economy added 1.9 million jobs.
On Friday, the government unveiled its estimate for the year: 2.1 million new jobs arrived in 2017, a slight drop from 2.2 million in 2016.
The US jobless rate dropped faster in 2017, though, and it’s expected to keep shrinking.