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US job growth slows for a fifth straight month, but labor market remains strong.

Reuters

What We’re Watching: US jobs report & new China, Afghan energy extraction deal

Jobs report: US labor market remains strong

The Fed’s interest rate hikes, designed to battle inflation, have slowed US job growth for a fifth straight month. The American economy added 223,000 jobs in December, well below last year's peak of 714,000 in February but still above expectations of around 200,000. The December numbers put the monthly average for 2022 at 375,000. A slowdown has been in effect since last August, but the labor market is still hot: 4.5 million jobs were created last year, the second highest since 1940. Such resilience likely means more interest rate hikes are to be expected. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate hit a historic low of 3.5%. The leisure and hospitality industry saw the biggest job gains, followed by healthcare and construction, while retail, manufacturing, transportation, and warehousing saw the least. President Joe Biden said the historic job gains are giving American families more “breathing room” amid the “cost-of-living squeeze.”

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