January 11, 2016 – The labor market continued to grow at a healthy pace in December as employers added 292,000 jobs and the U.S. unemployment rate remained at five percent, according to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Currently there are 7.9 million people unemployed in the U.S. For the year, total job growth totaled 2.7 million, the second-best year for hiring since 1999.
The strong figures underscore the resilience of the U.S. economy at a time of financial turmoil stemming from China’s slowing economy and plummeting stock market, according to reports. Most economists expect U.S. consumer spending to continue to offset any drag from overseas weakness, though many foresee only modest U.S. growth.
Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said in an interview that the pace of hiring in 2015 lagged behind that of 2014 in part because of “global headwinds — the strong dollar and the fact that Europe and the rest of the world are not recovering as fast as we are. “
“The U.S. economy is incredibly resilient,” said Mr. Perez. “When we have money in people’s pockets, when we continue to see consumer confidence at solid levels, when we continue to see job openings, these are all indicators of an economy that has the ability to withstand global headwinds.”
In December, employment rose in several industries, including professional and business services, construction, healthcare, and food services and drinking places. Mining employment continued to decline. In 2015, payroll employment growth totaled 2.7 million, compared with 3.1 million in 2014.
Employment in professional and business services increased by 73,000 in December, with temporary help services accounting for 34,000 of the gain. In 2015, professional and business services added 605,000 jobs, compared with a gain of 704,000 in 2014.
Construction showed strong job growth for the third consecutive month, gaining 45,000 jobs in December. Job gains occurred among specialty trade contractors (+29,000) and in construction of buildings (+10,000). Over the year, construction added 263,000 jobs, compared with a gain of 338,000 jobs in 2014.
In December, healthcare employment rose by 39,000, with most of the increase occurring in ambulatory health care services (+23,000) and hospitals (+12,000). Job growth in healthcare averaged 40,000 per month in 2015, compared with 26,000 per month in 2014.
Food services and drinking places added 37,000 jobs in December. In 2015, the industry added 357,000 jobs. Employment in transportation and warehousing rose by 23,000 in December, with a gain of 15,000 in couriers and messengers.
Within the information industry, motion pictures and sound recording added 15,000 jobs in December, offsetting a decline of 13,000 in the prior month. Employment in mining continued to decline (-8,000). After adding 41,000 jobs in 2014, mining lost 129,000 jobs in 2015, with most of the loss in support activities for mining.
Manufacturing employment changed little in December, though its nondurable goods component added 14,000 jobs. In 2015, manufacturing employment was little changed (+30,000), following strong growth in 2014 (+215,000).
Employment in other major industries, including wholesale trade, retail trade, financial activities, and government, changed little over the month.
Heading into the new year, various reports have shown that employers plan to keep this momentum of hiring moving forward. The recently released annual hiring survey by DHI Group found that 61 percent of HR managers and corporate recruiters anticipate more hiring in the first half of 2016 as compared to the second half of 2015. In the next six months, 17 percent of companies surveyed plan to hire 30 percent or more professionals, up five percentage points from the prior year.
Manpower’s latest Employment Outlook Survey recorded its strongest outlook heading into the New Year since 2007. Of the nearly 59,000 employers interviewed in 42 countries and territories across the globe, employers anticipate an increase in staffing levels in 39 countries and territories. Hiring prospects strengthen in 23 of 42 countries and territories, says Manpower.
Job seekers also appear to be looking around for new employment. More than one in five employees (21 percent) say they will leave their current employers in 2016, a five percent increase since last year (16 percent), according to a survey by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder.
The recent ‘Employee Development Survey’ released by Saba and WorkplaceTrends.com shared similar results, finding that one third of U.S. and U.K. workforces plan to change jobs in the next six months.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media