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U.S. economy added 2 million jobs in 2017

The job market may be the only thing hotter than ...

Posted: Jan 5, 2018 6:09 PM
Updated: Jan 5, 2018 6:09 PM

The job market may be the only thing hotter than the stock market.

The U.S. economy added 2 million jobs in 2017, another solid year of gains.

In December, the economy added 148,000 jobs, according to Labor Department figures released Friday. That was below what economists expected, but still the 87th straight month of gains -- the longest streak on record.

"The 2017 job market was really great," said Cathy Barrera, chief economist at ZipRecruiter, a jobs website.

Unemployment remained at 4.1%, matching the lowest level in 17 years.

Wages grew 2.5% compared with a year ago. Wages still aren't growing as quickly as the Federal Reserve would like, one reason so many Americans still feel left out of the recovery from the Great Recession.

Related: American workers in 2018: Show me the money

"The real mystery is why hasn't wage growth really picked up?" says Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors. "That continues to be the challenge for this job market."

Last year's job gains were below those of previous years.

The United States added almost 3 million jobs in 2014, 2.7 million in 2015 and 2.2 million in 2016. That trend is what's expected in such a long economic expansion. As unemployment moves to historic lows, job gains eventually slow down.

Still, industries across the economy added jobs last year.

Manufacturing, an industry that President Trump has sought to boost, added almost 200,000 jobs last year, a turnaround from 2016, when it lost jobs. Construction added 210,000 jobs in 2017. Bars and restaurants hired about 250,000 waiters, cooks and hostesses. Health care continued to lead the pack, adding 300,000 jobs in 2017.

Related: 2017 was the year of the red-hot job market

There were weak spots, though: Retail stores lost 67,000 jobs last year after several years of robust gains. Traditional stores are struggling, and some going out of business altogether, as more people shop online.

The number of Americans who are working part-time but want a full-time job is about 5 million, still above where it was before the Great Recession began in late 2007.

That number has come down significantly since it peaked at 9.1 million in 2010. But these workers often are paid less, receive far fewer benefits like health care and are much more likely to live in poverty.

More broadly, the job market is shifting in a way that economists say helps explain why wage growth has been so sluggish.

Shortly after the recession, employers and hiring managers could pick and choose employees because unemployment was so high. Eight years later, with unemployment at 4.1%, workers have the upper hand.

A record share of small business employers, 54%, say they found few or no qualified job applicants in December, according to a report published Thursday by the National Federation of Independent Business, an advocacy group for small employers.

If that trend continues, more companies will be forced to raise wages in a meaningful way to compete for workers.

Already, the best parts of the U.S. job market are showing healthy wage growth.

In Phoenix, where the unemployment rate is a few notches below the national average, wages grew more than 5% in December, the best of any U.S. metro area, according to a separate report by Paychex, a payment processor, and IHS Markit, an analytics firm.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 73287

Reported Deaths: 3036
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15701725
Lake7496275
Elkhart480184
Allen3835163
St. Joseph342381
Hamilton2723104
Vanderburgh192213
Hendricks1871108
Cass17869
Johnson1741118
Porter129439
Clark120247
Tippecanoe118911
Madison94365
LaPorte89430
Howard88465
Kosciusko84712
Bartholomew78047
Marshall77422
Floyd77246
Monroe74630
Delaware71452
Dubois68712
Boone67246
Noble66329
Hancock64738
Vigo61910
Jackson5855
Warrick57930
LaGrange55710
Shelby54627
Grant52630
Dearborn49628
Morgan46734
Clinton4303
Henry37620
Wayne36810
White36110
Montgomery35221
Lawrence34227
Decatur33532
Harrison32723
Putnam2868
Miami2692
Scott26610
Daviess26420
Greene24634
Franklin24114
Jasper2342
DeKalb2304
Jennings22412
Gibson2214
Steuben2073
Ripley1997
Fayette1867
Carroll1852
Perry18412
Starke1777
Posey1700
Orange16924
Wabash1653
Fulton1642
Wells1622
Jefferson1602
Knox1510
Whitley1516
Washington1391
Tipton1379
Spencer1313
Huntington1223
Newton11810
Randolph1184
Clay1165
Sullivan1131
Adams962
Jay910
Owen871
Pulaski791
Rush764
Brown731
Fountain732
Blackford632
Ohio635
Benton610
Pike530
Parke511
Vermillion490
Switzerland460
Crawford440
Martin430
Union390
Warren221
Unassigned0202

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 99969

Reported Deaths: 3668
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin18182523
Cuyahoga13414499
Hamilton9583255
Lucas5288323
Montgomery431894
Summit3523222
Marion292245
Butler289163
Mahoning2532255
Pickaway238342
Stark1813139
Warren176739
Lorain173678
Columbiana165660
Trumbull1518106
Fairfield136732
Delaware129219
Licking126049
Clark114214
Lake111138
Wood103058
Clermont92111
Medina91435
Miami83238
Tuscarawas78114
Portage75461
Allen73244
Greene68412
Belmont62126
Mercer60513
Richland60012
Erie57027
Ashtabula56246
Geauga55444
Wayne52958
Ross4684
Huron3955
Darke39329
Ottawa37726
Sandusky37316
Hancock3723
Athens3561
Madison35510
Holmes3276
Lawrence2790
Auglaize2506
Union2461
Muskingum2251
Jefferson2242
Scioto2241
Putnam20517
Seneca2043
Knox2037
Washington20222
Preble2012
Coshocton1926
Shelby1904
Crawford1745
Champaign1732
Morrow1682
Hardin16412
Clinton1626
Highland1561
Logan1522
Fulton1471
Wyandot1458
Ashland1433
Defiance1424
Williams1343
Brown1272
Perry1233
Guernsey1167
Henry1162
Hocking1169
Fayette1120
Carroll1115
Monroe9118
Pike760
Jackson740
Van Wert711
Paulding670
Gallia651
Adams592
Meigs380
Vinton312
Harrison261
Morgan250
Noble170
Unassigned00
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