Hiring surged in December, employers added 312000 jobs


The unemployment rate rose to 3.9 percent, but that's because more people came off the sidelines to look for jobs, the Labor Department said Friday.

Stocks surged on the news, along with word that the US and China will hold trade talks next week and comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell that the USA central bank will be flexible in judging whether to raise interest rates.

The blockbuster United States jobs numbers starkly contrasted with the mounting fears for the global economy of recent weeks - which have seen stock prices tumble and confidence wane among corporations who foresee slowing demand and weakening sales in 2019. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed roughly 450 points in morning trading, an increase of about 2 percent.

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Wage growth also picked up.

Average hourly earnings rose 11 cents, or 0.4 percent, in December after gaining 0.2 percent in November. Employers increased hours for workers, pushing the average workweek up to 34.5 hours from 34.4 hours in November.

"You're going to see a slowdown in business investment and hiring, especially by large firms", said Brusuelas, the RSM economist. The growth occurred in health care (+50,000), food services and drinking places (+41,000), construction (+38,000), manufacturing (+32,000) and retail trade (+24,000). The central bank last month forecast two rate hikes this year and signalled its tightening cycle is nearing an end in the face of financial market volatility and slowing global growth.

Previous year started with an unemployment rate of 4.1 percent.

The markets have been turbulent amid concerns that the US economy will be hurt by weakness in other countries.

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Data releases from Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis have been suspended during the shutdown, which started on December 22 amid demands by Trump for $5 billion (£3.9 billion) in funding for a wall on the U.S. -Mexico border.

But futures soon recovered to levels they were at earlier in on Friday, after China and the United States planned for a fresh round of trade talks on January 7-8 to try and resolve their dispute.

The new House Democratic Majority, she said, has already taken the first steps to restore certainty and prosperity to people's lives by passing strong, bipartisan funding bills to reopen government: respecting workers and protecting borders. "And then, of course, that affects the whole world".

Stocks jumped Friday in response to the jobs figures.

In the USA, consumers did not hold back this holiday season, with sales up 5.1 percent over a year ago, according to a Mastercard report.

Concerns about the economy had been boosted by surveys showing sharp declines in consumer confidence and manufacturing activity last month.

The expected continuation of steady job growth suggests that such risks might be - for the moment, anyway - overblown.

Among the federal employees still working during the government shutdown are those at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Depending on how long it lasts, the shutdown "could be a big negative" in next month's jobsreport, which will reflect January employment, Kevin Hassett, a top economic adviser to President Trump, said Thursday.