While temperatures plunged and a deep freeze gripped much of the U.S., job creation thankfully continued to thaw. According to the December 2014 jobs report released this morning, U.S. employers added 252,000 jobs in December, which exceeded the 240,000 that economists were expecting, while the unemployment rate dropped to 5.6 percent (the lowest it’s been since June 2008). Also, if you look at the past year, more than 2.95 million jobs were created in 2014, which signals the strongest year of job growth in 15 years.
That’s great news, right? Absolutely — but let’s look at the whole picture.
In case you’re looking for handy, easily digestible charts from the just-released jobs report, Quartz has some with highlights.
As you may know, following each month’s jobs report, we read dozens of news reports, scour the Web, and break what we find down to three key talking points you can use. Whether you’re taking a break at the office water cooler or conversing with peers in the industry, you’ll have three conversation starters in your pocket.
HERE’S THE NEWS YOU CAN USE FROM TODAY’S RELEASE:
1. Job creation stays (relatively) strong … but there are caveats. U.S. employers added 252,000 jobs in December, beating the 240,000 that many economists were expecting. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate dropped to 5.6 percent, the lowest level since the recession. Numerous news outlets touted 2014 as the best year for job growth in 15 years (since 1999).
Hold the celebrations though because there’s still a lot of work to be done. For starters, consider the labor force participation rate that hasn’t been impressive and dropped 0.2 percent (to 62.7 percent) in December. Also, the number of long-term unemployed individuals, or those who have been out of work for more than 27 weeks, is nowhere near where it should be.
2. There were significant positive revisions. The already-glowing November jobs report — which the BLS had initially reported had added 321,000 jobs — was given even more of a boost when that number was revised up to 353,000. That’s a 32,000 difference, in case you were wondering. The BLS also revised up the October numbers from 243,000 to 261,000 (a difference of 18,000). For the two months, that amounts to a 50,000 increase than was previously estimated.
3. What’s up with wages? Possibly the most unsatisfactory part of today’s jobs report was the underwhelming average hourly earnings, which have remained relatively stagnant over the past five years. After some glimmering hope emerged when it increased by 0.4 percent in November, everyone was hoping the upward wage trend would continue. But nope. Hopes were dashed when it dropped 0.2 percent in December.
Job creation beat expectations & unemployment rate dropped, but wages failed to delight as average hourly earnings fell in Dec. #jobsreport
— CareerBuilder (@CBforEmployers) January 9, 2015
You may not have seen this wage stagnation dominating headlines in the past, but many experts say this piece is integral to a successful and sustained economic recovery moving forward. So watch for more of a focus on wages in upcoming labor market reports and analysis.