- February 1, 2019: Vol. 31, Number 2

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U.S. adds 2.6m jobs in 2018

by Loretta Clodfelter

The United States added 312,000 nonfarm jobs in December, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The stronger-than-expected job gains indicate the U.S. economy continues to strengthen. In addition, the unemployment rate increased to 3.9 percent from 3.7 percent in the previous month, suggesting more people are returning to the labor force and looking for work. For the whole of 2018, total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 2.6 million, higher than the 2.2 million increase in 2017.

Some of the strongest employment categories in December were healthcare (up 50,000 jobs), professional and business services (up 43,000 jobs), food and drinking establishments (up 41,000 jobs), construction (up 38,000 jobs), manufacturing (up 32,000 jobs), and retail trade (up 24,000 jobs).

Wages also rose in December. The average hourly earnings for all employees increased by $0.11 to $27.48. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have risen 3.2 percent.

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