Jobs Disappoint In Obama's Final Month, Rise Only 156K, But Average Hourly Earnings Jump

With Wall Street expecting a 178K payrolls print for president Obama's final full monthly December jobs report, the headline December nonfarm payrolls increase of just 156K is likely to disappoint. However, the poor December number will likely be offset by a revision to the November print from 178K to 204K, even as October was revised downward from 142K to 135K, for a net revision of the past two months to 19K higher.

For all of 2016, job growth totaled 2.2 million for the year, less than the increase of 2.7 million in 2015.

The unemployment rate printed at 4.7% as predicted, fractionally higher from last month's 4.6%.

However, the big silver lining in today's jobs report, and what Wall Street will likely mostly focus on, is the jump in average hourly earnings, which rose 0.4% in December, up from the disappointing November -0.1% decline, and ahead of the 0.3% expected by consensus. It was also the best print since 2009. On an annual basis, the increase was 2.9%, also on of the highest gains since the crisis, strengthening the case for the Fed to hike on multiple occasions in 2017.

On the other hand, average weekly earnings continued their muted performance, rising 2.3% Y/Y in December.

Some more details from the report:

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 156,000 in December, with an increase in health care and social assistance. Job growth totaled 2.2 million in 2016, less than the increase of 2.7 million in 2015.

 

Employment in health care rose by 43,000 in December, with most of the increase occurring in ambulatory health care services (+30,000) and hospitals (+11,000). Health care added an average of 35,000 jobs per month in 2016, roughly in line with the average monthly gain of 39,000 in 2015.

 

Social assistance added 20,000 jobs in December, reflecting job growth in individual and family services (+21,000). In 2016, social assistance added 92,000 jobs, down from an increase of 162,000 in 2015.

 

Employment in food services and drinking places continued to trend up in December (+30,000). This industry added 247,000 jobs in 2016, fewer than the 359,000 jobs gained in 2015.

 

Employment also continued to trend up in transportation and warehousing in December (+15,000). Within the industry, employment expanded by 12,000 in couriers and messengers. In 2016, transportation and warehousing added 62,000 jobs, down from a gain of 110,000 jobs in 2015.

 

Employment in financial activities continued on an upward trend in December (+13,000). This is in line with the average monthly gains for the industry over the past 2 years.

 

In December, employment edged up in manufacturing (+17,000), with a gain of 15,000 in the durable goods component. However, since reaching a recent peak in January, manufacturing employment has declined by 63,000.

 

Employment in professional and business services was little changed in December (+15,000), following an increase of 65,000 in November. The industry added 522,000 jobs in 2016.

 

Employment in other major industries, including mining, construction, wholesale trade, retail trade, information, and government, changed little in December.

 

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.3 hours in December. In manufacturing, the workweek edged up by 0.1 hour to 40.7 hours, and overtime edged up by 0.1 hour to 3.3 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls remained at 33.6 hours.  

 

In December, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 10 cents to $26.00, after edging down by 2 cents in November. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.9 percent. In December, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 7 cents to $21.80.

 

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for October was revised down from +142,000 to +135,000, and the change for November was revised up from +178,000 to +204,000. With these revisions, employment gains in October and November were 19,000 higher than previously reported. Over the past 3 months, job gains have averaged 165,000 per month.


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