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- February 1, 2018: Vol. 30, Number 2

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U.S. adds 148,000 jobs in December

by Loretta Clodfelter

The U.S. economy added 148,000 new jobs in December 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.1 percent.

In the fourth quarter, job gains were an average of 204,000 per month, after revisions (November’s total nonfarm payroll employment was revised up to 252,000, while October’s was revised down to 211,000).

Job growth in 2017 slowed modestly compared with the strong job growth in 2015 and 2016, but remained above 2 million for the year, which is a robust performance at this point in the cycle. The increases in nonfarm payroll employment remain above population growth, but wages have been slow to increase. In 2017, average hourly earnings rose 2.5 percent, according to the BLS. That is ahead of inflation, but not by much.

One of the strongest employment categories in December was construction, which saw an increase of 30,000 jobs, including 24,000 among specialty trade contractors. During 2017, constructi

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