December Jobs Report: Up, Down And All Around

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS …  The U.S. economy gained 292,000 jobs in December, according to data (.pdf here) from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  That’s well above the 200,000 new positions economists’ expected.  Previous reports were also adjusted upward, with November and October printing at 252,000 and 307,000…


The U.S. economy gained 292,000 jobs in December, according to data (.pdf here) from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  That’s well above the 200,000 new positions economists’ expected.  Previous reports were also adjusted upward, with November and October printing at 252,000 and 307,000 respectively – an addition of more than 50,000 new jobs.

Before anyone pops champagne, though, wages were flat in December.  In fact they actually fell by a penny – from $25.25 to $25.24 per hour.  Analysts had expected a 0.2 percent increase in wages, but instead they were greeted the first drop in wages in more than a year.

That’s certainly not what the U.S. Federal Reserve was expecting after it raised interest rates last month.

There were other troubling indicators in the report.  For example, there were big jumps in low-wage and temporary positions … and most depressing of all, the number of “multiple job holders” exploded by 334,000 last month to reach a new post-recessionary record of 7.7 million.

The last time that many Americans had to work more than one job to make ends meet?  August 2008.

Oh, and those pesky fundamentals remain weak … like the estimated 94 million working-age Americans who are not part of the labor force.  Which reminds us, the labor participation rate for December clocked in at 62.6 percent – up from its 2015 low of 62.4 percent but still down for the year.

When U.S. president Barack Obama took office, the rate was 65.8 percent.  When former president George W. Bush took office, it was 67.2 percent.

So … what do we make of the latest jobless data?

Obviously it’s good to see positive prints as opposed to negative ones, but lingering wage weakness and the poor quality of the new positions being added – combined with the ongoing consequences of our dependency economy – do not bode well for the future.


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erneba January 8, 2016 at 1:39 pm

“..there were big jumps in low-wage and temporary positions..”
No kidding, it was the Christmas season.
Wait for the January numbers to detect any trends.

Good Times January 8, 2016 at 1:40 pm

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Still trying to prove Obama’s “failed” economic policy.

Jethroe Bodine Verdad January 8, 2016 at 1:42 pm

It ain’t hard.

Rocky Verdad January 8, 2016 at 4:22 pm

5% unemployment, gas below $2, affordable healthcare, second best year of job creation this century, the other was also under Obama, falling deficits, continued growth in manufacturing employement (8,000 December alone), low inflation, low mortgage rates, increasing property values (except for West Columbia and Ohio), malls are packed, highest level of new car sales – ever!!!! Yeah, another huge Flip Fail – but……what can we say.

Big T and the GOP January 8, 2016 at 4:51 pm

None of that matters because we have a black, muslim President from Kenya.

Just Me January 10, 2016 at 6:30 pm

It doesn’t take much to make some people happy. If you look at what is behind all this you would be concerned. You seem to be believing all the propaganda from the government. They cook the books all day to make us think everything is great.

5% unemployment is smoke and mirrors.

Falling deficits!!! Where? President Obama doubled our national debt.

Printing money like it’s free gives you low mortgage rates and high stock market prices. Makes it easy for companies to expand their factories. BUT since most companies want cheap labor the factories being built are in China, India, and other third world countries. All these people who got an Adjustable Rate loan will be defaulting once the interest rates start going up.

Don’t get used to the below $2.00 gas because that’s just Saudi Arabia trying to ice the competition and damage the Iranian and Russian economies. Prices will be back up to $4.00 again as soon as Saudi Arabia decides to increase the price. All the shale oil drillers will be out of business by then.

Then comes the inflation. You didn’t see the prices for anything go down while the price of oil and gas dropped but you will see everything go up again when the price of gas goes up. If they don’t increase the price then they reduce the size of the product. So what was a 5 lb sack of sugar is now a 4 lb sack of sugar for the same old price.

Bible Thumper January 8, 2016 at 2:42 pm

Good report. 342, 000 jobs in December plus revisions of previous months from the institutional survey. Wages are not up this month but are still up 2% over last year. Commodities, energy and import prices are down, so it would be hard for wages to buck that trend and increase too much.

If you look at the Household suvey, the numbers look even better.
The adult population grew by 189,000 and the labor force grew 466,000. That means the so called 94 million adults not working reduced by 277,000. (see not in labor force)

That 466,000 addition to the labor force includes 485,000 new job minus 20,000 reduction in number of unemployed.(rounding error) All these numbers are in the top section of the link.

There is also an interesting section at the bottom of the linked table on part time employment. Part time for economic reasons declined by 63,000. Part time for non-economic reasons (by choice) increased by 72,000. Those numbers show that 135,000 people gained their preferred full/part time employment status.

Rocky Verdad January 8, 2016 at 2:54 pm

Too bad Jethroe ain’t one em.

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