The U.S. economy added 145,000 jobs for the month of December, slightly below expectations, while the unemployment rate remained at a historic low of 3.5 percent.
According to a jobs report released by the Labor Department on Friday, December capped a ten-year stretch of job growth, the longest in 80 years of record-keeping by the federal government. A total of 2.11 million jobs were created in 2019, down from the previous year’s 2.68 million jobs added.
Retail jobs showed strong gains in December, with 41,000 jobs added in the field during the holiday season. However, U.S. manufacturing continued to slump amid an ongoing trade war with China.
The report also placed the labor force participation rate at 63.2 percent, reflecting an upward trend in recent years. The rate is still below levels seen before the 2009 Great Recession.
In addition, wages rose 2.9 percent compared with 2018, not very high compared to other periods of low unemployment but still above inflation levels.
“We are not seeing any evidence to date that a strong labor market is putting excessive cost-push pressure on price inflation,” said Federal Reserve Vice Chair Richard H. Clarida on Thursday.
The economy still faces hurdles as U.S. manufacturing has slowed to its lowest level in over a decade, according to the Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index.
“Global trade remains the most significant cross-industry issue, but there are signs that several industry sectors will improve as a result of the phase-one trade agreement between the U.S. and China,” commented ISM head Timothy Fiore.
China announced on Thursday that a delegation of senior officials would travel to Washington next week to sign a phase-one trade deal designed to ease tariffs on imports between China and the U.S.