2016 Ends with Continued Job Growth
    Unemployment Rate Ticks Up Slightly

JOB GROWTH: The economy closed out the year with the addition of 156,000 jobs in December, for a total annual increase of 2.2 million jobs, which was a bit lower than in the prior year.

TOP INDUSTRIES: In December, employment continued to trend up across almost every sector Spherion tracks, with the biggest gains recorded in the healthcare and social services sector.

UNEMPLOYMENT: After registering its most significant change in more than a year last month, the unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 4.7 percent in December. That is a signal that more people are looking for work, following a long stretch of "underemployment.”

WAGES: Wages rose in December, bringing the annual average hourly increase to 2.9 percent.

WORK WEEK: The average work week remained unchanged at 34.3 hours.

TEMPORARY JOB TRENDS: There was a pullback in the temporary staffing sector of 15,500 jobs in December.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? The year closed on a positive note, albeit a muted one. The economy saw fairly steady job growth throughout the year, although overall, 2016 was not as robust as the previous two years. More people are actively looking for full-time work, but they—and the disturbingly high number of discouraged workers who have stopped looking—may lack the skills required to fill open positions. For the year, wages trended up, which is a good sign for workers but also a signal that employers face continuing struggles to attract and retain the skilled employees needed to spur further growth.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Steinberg Employment Research, Bloomberg, USA Today, CNNMoney, Staffing Industry Analysts, Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times 

Note: This newsletter references the December BLS Report - January 6th, 2017.