US Adds 312,000 Jobs, Shattering Wall Street Expectations


The U.S. Labor Department released its official December unemployment and hiring report on Friday morning. According to the report, the American economy added 312,000 jobs for the month of December 2018, compared with additions of non-revised additions of 155,000 a month earlier. Economists were expecting job gains of approximately 182,000 for December, based on figures compiled by MarketWatch.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 rallied 0.9% to 2,471, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 330 points, or 1.5%, to 23,016, while the Nasdaq Composite rose 1.5% to 6,562 following the upbeat jobs report.

Unemployment rate jumped 3.9% from a 49-year low of 3.7%, as more people actively searched for jobs. The department said that average wage paid to U.S. workers in December rose by 0.4%, or 11 cents, to $27.48 per hour. The twelve-month rate of hourly wage gains climbed 3.2% from 3.1% a year ago.

Hours worked per week rose by 0.1 hour to 34.5 hours. The department revised October’s job additions from 237,000 to 237,000, while November gains were revised from 155,000 to 176,000. The numbers brought 2018 total employment gains to a 3-year high of 2.64 million.

The labor market has remained relatively steady in the last few months, amid heightened economic slowdown concerns and falling stocks. However, Wall Street analysts don’t expect the pace of additions to keep on going this year, in line with their estimates that GDP growth will moderate amid a waning boost from the 2017 tax cuts that enacted by the Trump administration, as well as fears of a global economic shutdown.

Investors are also waiting for remarks from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who is scheduled to take part in a panel discussion at 10:15 a.m. in Atlanta. Powell will be accompanied by his predecessors Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen. Traders will be looking for reassurance from the banker in the wake of the recent stock market downturn.

Craig Erlam, market analyst at online broker OANDA says, “I doubt Powell will use this platform to announce any significant shift in Fed policy but he may address the sizeable difference between central bank and market expectations for the coming year.”