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US job growth sees a slowdown

By Lawrence Gash

As the world’s largest economy enters an election year, America's manufacturing sector suffers a surprise fall in employment

Latest figures from the US Labor Department have shown a substantial slowdown in the rate of American job growth.

145,000 jobs were added to the US economy in December, missing analyst predictions of 164,000. This marked a 111,000 drop from November’s revised job growth of 256,000.

Although last month’s figures were boosted by the return of striking General Motors workers to payroll employment, the size of December’s decline has increased fears of a slowdown in the US economy.

As the world’s largest economy entered an election year its manufacturing sector suffered a surprise fall. Manufacturing employment in December fell by 12,000 jobs, the second largest drop since President Donald Trump’s election.

The president will hope that manufacturing job growth will recover by the time voters head to the polls thanks to the agreement of an initial "phase-one" trade deal with China. His success in 2016 has largely been attributed to his ability to win over the blue-collar manufacturing communities of key states such Pennsylvania.

The data from the Labor Department also showed poor wage growth. For the first time in 18 months wage gains were below 3 per cent on a year-on-year basis.

The US unemployment rate stayed stagnant in December at 3.5 per cent. However, black unemployment rose to its highest level in six months to 5.9 per cent.

Some sectors such as retail, healthcare and hospitality enjoyed healthy growth, adding 41,000, 28,000 and 40,000 jobs respectively.

Such gains coupled with a relatively low unemployment rate will be welcome news. However, the extent of December’s drop-off will alarm many as will the faltering of wage growth and the declining manufacturing position.

FURTHER READING: UK labour market freezes

FURTHER READING: German manufacturing falls for fourth consecutive month

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