Healthcare adds 31k jobs in December; hospital job growth picks up

Canada's Unemployment Rate Hits Record Low

US employers added 148,000 jobs in December, a modest gain but enough to suggest the economy entered the new year with solid momentum.

The U.S. economy added 148,000 jobs in December, the Labor Department says, issuing the monthly jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"The 2017 job market was really great", said Cathy Barrera, chief economist at ZipRecruiter, a jobs website. Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons were down by 0.6 percentage point and 926,000, respectively. The unemployment rate for African-Americans dropped to a record low of 6.8 percent.

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

Manufacturing, another area of gains, added 25,000 jobs because of strong numbers in durable goods - including motor vehicles -, which contributed 21,000 to the total.

Economists surveyed by Reuters had been expecting nonfarm payrolls to grow by 190,000. As unemployment moves to historic lows, job gains eventually slow down.

By region, Quebec and Alberta saw the biggest increases last month with each province adding more than 26,000 new jobs.

Healthcare adds 31k jobs in December; hospital job growth picks up
Healthcare adds 31k jobs in December; hospital job growth picks up

December's numbers bring a close to the data for 2017 as a whole, which ended up being Canada's best year for jobs since 2002, with 423,000 jobs added. Construction added 210,000 jobs in 2017. Health care continued to lead the pack, adding 300,000 jobs in 2017. Saint John lost 2,400 jobs in the same period. Traditional stores are struggling, and some going out of business altogether, as more people shop online.

Statistics Canada reported Friday that 6,100 part-time jobs were created during the month, offset by a loss of 1,100 full-time positions.

That number has come down significantly since it peaked at 9.1 million in 2010.

Shortly after the recession, employers and hiring managers could pick and choose employees because unemployment was so high.

Since mid-October, unemployment claims have ranged 223,000 to 252,000 workers.

If that trend continues, more companies will be forced to raise wages in a meaningful way to compete for workers. However, this unremarkable intra-month data does not detract from the observation that the USA labor market and economy in general are healthy.

Factory employment increased by 196,000, after seeing little change in 2016.

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