December Jobs Report Falls Short

The U.S. labor market slowed a bit more than economists expected in December, with a noted slip in retail employment.

Reuters reported that payrolls were up by 148,000 positions, a significant slowdown from the 252,000 gain seen in the previous month. That missed estimates of 190,000 additions.

The unemployment rate, at a current low, has plateaued at 4.1 percent.

The latest tally by the Department of Labor showed that retail positions were off by 20,300 in December, representing the steepest slide since March of this year. CNBC said the slip was tied to the ongoing shift by firms to adopt eCommerce initiatives.

Looking at all of 2017, CNBC said that retail as a whole gave up 70,000 jobs, with general merchandising responsible for 20,000 of those losses and department stores accounting for about 8,000. Conversely, food and beverage companies added 6,500 positions to their rosters.

Turning back to the latest data, Reuters reported that the average hourly wage was up by $0.09, or 0.3 percent, in December, continuing a gain of 10 basis points seen in November and logging a 2.5 percent annual gain in all of 2017.

Job growth, said the newswire, may get a boost from the $1.5 trillion tax cut deal finalized last month, as lower corporate tax rates might boost spending.


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