The Labor Department released its December Jobs report with lower than expected job growth and an unemployment rate that remains at a 17-year low.
148,000: The economy added 148,000 jobs in December
4.1%: The unemployment rate remained at 4.1 percent
2.5%: Wages grew 2.5 percent over the past year
The 148,000 jobs added to the economy in December marks the 87th straight month of growth, the longest on record, according to Business Insider. The 4.1 percent unemployment rate also marks the third straight month at the 17-year low. Both numbers mark the end of another strong year of growth for the U.S. economy. Though the job growth fell below economists’ expectations, the number is still high enough to handle the number of people entering the job market and chip away at the unemployment rate, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The biggest weight on December’s jobs report is the loss of retail jobs. Despite the growth in other sectors, the retail trade lost more than 20,000 jobs in December, most of those losses were in general merchandise stores. The New York Times reports that the rise of e-commerce hit especially hard this December. However, the retail sector has shed 67,000 jobs throughout 2017.
The biggest question that remains at the end of 2017 is when the sluggish 2.5 percent wage growth will begin to increase. According to the Wall Street Journal, some employers are feeling pressure to increase wages to retain employees. In 2017, the financial, leisure and hospitality and transportation and warehousing industries saw significant wage growth. While manufacturing has seen strong job growth, wage growth has been slow in the industry, falling short of the average at just 1.6 percent. According to one economist quoted by the Wall Street Journal, wage growth will be the indicator to watch in 2018.