The U.S. Labour Department released its official hiring and unemployment figures for November on December 8 in the morning, providing the latest snapshot of the American economy.
- 228,000 jobs were added last month. Wall Street economists had expected an increase of about 200,000, according to Bloomberg.
- The unemployment rate was 4.1 %, unchanged from October, when it was the lowest since 2000.
- Average earnings rose by 5 US Cents an hour and are up 2.5 % over the past year.
The American job market is the strongest it’s been in a decade, and arguably the strongest since 2000. The United States has now added jobs for 86 consecutive months — a downward blip in September was later revised to show a small gain — and the unemployment rate is lower than it ever got during the last boom, which ended when the housing bubble burst. Even wage growth, long the weak spot in an otherwise strong recovery, is showing signs of picking up.
“It’s a really, really strong economy,” said Tom Gimbel, chief executive of LaSalle Network, a staffing firm in Chicago. “Companies really want to take advantage of the economy, so they want to hire and get while the getting’s good.”
A White House statement on the jobs data pointed to both accomplishment and anticipation, with congressional Republicans on the verge of passing a USD 1.5 trillion tax cut plan that President Trump could sign into law this month.
Declaring that “President Trump’s bold economic vision continues to pay off,” it added, “With tax reform moving quickly through Congress, confidence in the strength of our economy remains high and families around the country are reaping the benefits.”
Economists expect the bill to provide at least a modest lift to the economy — but they aren’t sure that’s a good idea. With unemployment so low and the economy fundamentally healthy, a tax cut could lead the economy to overheat, pushing up inflation and forcing policymakers at the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates faster than planned.
“It’s a very poorly timed fiscal stimulus,” said Joseph Song, an economist at Bank of America. “It kind of raises the risk of a boom-bust cycle.”