This newsletter references the BLS Report of December activity, released 1/5/18.

2017 Added 2.1 Million Jobs and Ended with

Unemployment at its Lowest Level in 17 Years

JOB GROWTH: December job growth reached 148,000, lower than the previous month, but capping a fourth quarter where monthly job growth averaged 204,000.

TOP INDUSTRIES: The strongest job gains in December were scored in healthcare, construction and manufacturing. Retail took the biggest hit.

UNEMPLOYMENT: The unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.1 percent—still at its lowest level in 17 years.

WAGES: The average hourly earnings rate edged up again in December, although the annual average remained at 2.5 percent for the year.

WORK WEEK: The average work week in December was unchanged from November at 34.5 hours.

TEMPORARY JOB TRENDS: Activity in the temporary jobs sector slowed in December to 7,000 jobs. For the year, growth reached 4.6 percent. The temporary share of the total employment market edged up to 2.1016 percent, trending ahead of the previous year.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? The U.S. economy had a strong 2017, adding 2.1 million jobs in the past 12 months. Although many economists predict slower growth as we move through 2018, continuing positive momentum, along with a booming stock market, offer strong signals for sustained growth. Wage stagnation remains the vexing low point in a primarily positive outlook. As the economy expands further, employers can expect little relief from ongoing challenges in finding and keeping high-value workers.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Steinberg Employment Research, Associated Press, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, CNN/Money, Staffing Industry Analysts, FITSNEWS, The Conference Board