Job Market Update: December 2017

What's the latest with the unemployment rate? We've got the details and the takeaways.

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Unemployment Rate

  • Unemployment Rate

    4.1%

  • Change from Last Month

    0%

5 Things to know about December’s job report

The unemployment rate did not change in the last month of 2017, with 148,000 jobs added – a slight miss from the 190,000 expected, according to Yahoo Finance. This was the third consecutive month the unemployment rate was at 4.1%.

The most notable thing about the December job report was undoubtedly the rise in wages with a gain of 9 cents for the month. This is the largest increase for one month in all of 2017, and follows November’s 5-cent increase, with average hourly earnings growing by a total of 65 cents – or 2.5% - over the year. 

However, framed with the context that the economy is the healthiest it’s been in 17 years, and wage growth also paced at 2.5% back in 2015 according to the Wall Street Journal, slow wage growth will continue to be a hot topic in 2018.

Our own Bill Ravenscroft spoke to The New York Times about this year’s wages struggle, stating that instead of approaching wages as a long-term approach, employers are instead offering “perks” to employers, such as on-site child care or reimbursed lunches. While this approach works in the short-term, fewer and fewer people will be available to be hired as the unemployment rate continues to drop, eventually leaving companies no choice but to raise pay rates in order to attract – and retain – needed talent.

Here are 5 Other Things you need to know about December’s job report:

1. 87 Month Streak

In 2017, the number of people without jobs in America was down by approximately .6%, or around 930,000 people, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  December was also the 87th consecutive month to see job growth.

2. Retail Loses Again

Retail trade added 20,000 jobs in November due to the holiday shopping season – which Mastercard estimated to be 4.9% higher in sales this year, according to CNBC – but lost them just the same in December, specifically in general merchandise stores (-27,000 over the month.) Retail trade lost a total of 67,000 jobs in 2017, after adding 203,000 of them in 2016.

3. Consumer Confidence

Solid economic growth is helping to support more hiring, with factory managers receiving the most new orders in December than any month since 2004, the sales of existing home are reaching the fastest pace in 11 years in November, and consumer confidence at a 17-year high, according to ABC News.

4. December’s Heavy Hitters

Manufacturing employment rose by 25,000 jobs in December, largely due to the durable goods industries – products that last a while, such as washing machines, automobiles, or furniture. Construction also saw an interesting increase in December, with 30,000 jobs added to the industry, specifically among specialty trade contractors.

5. Hot Warehouse Markets

Our senior vice president, Bill Ravenscroft, also spoke to the Times about hot warehouse markets, such as Memphis or Inland Empire in Southern California, where pay has increased for workers as employers are competing with several other companies in the same area. This is one of many signs wage growth will be trending in the New Year.

Jobs Added

148,000

  • Retail Trade

    -20,000

  • Transportation & Warehousing

    1,800

  • Manufacturing

    25,000

  • Construction

    30,000

  • Professional & Business Services

    19,000

  • Leisure and Hospitality

    29,000

  • Food Services & Drinking Places

    25,000

  • Education & Health Services

    28,000

Job Growth by Industry

December 2017

In Your Region

Nov. 2017

The Bureau of Labor Statistics breaks down the unemployment rate geographically, one month behind its national breakdown, so this month we’re reviewing November’s regional performance.

The Midwest had the lowest unemployment rate at 3.2%, while the South and the West tied for the highest at 4.1%.

West

West

  • Unemployment Rate

    4.1%

  • Change from Last Month

    -.2%

Lowest and highest unemployment rates

Hawaii (2.0%) / Alaska (7.1%)

Midwest

Midwest

  • Unemployment Rate

    3.2%

  • Change from Last Month

    -.5%

Lowest and highest unemployment rates

North Dakota (2.3%) / Illinois (4.7%)

Northeast

Northeast

  • Unemployment Rate

    3.8%

  • Change from Last Month

    -.2%

Lowest and highest unemployment rates

New Hampshire (2.5%) / New Jersey (4.8%)

West

South

  • Unemployment Rate

    4.1%

  • Change from Last Month

    -.2%

Lowest and highest unemployment rates

Tennessee and Arkansas (3.3%) / District of Columbia (5.8%)

Why This is So Important

The number of available jobs, while encouraging for job seekers, has placed extreme stress on employers who are already struggling to find talent. There are roughly 6 million jobs currently available, a near record high. 

According to ABC News, economists can point to several trends that may be keeping wages from rising, including younger workers – who earn far less than their predecessors – replacing baby boomers, and low productivity from employees while at work. Our infographic explains more about younger workers – millennials, in particular – and the stress lower pay can cause on their lives, thus lowering productivity.

If you’re searching for work, consider checking out our Job Directory, where you can find hundreds of available positions in your city, and work with our recruiters to find the best match for you.

If you’re an employer worried about filling your current open positions, and what your talent attraction efforts are costing your company each month, contact us today to learn how you can tap into our talent database and support your future growth.  

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