January 13, 2020 — Ten Straight Years of Payroll Growth


Friday, the Labor Department released the final payroll and wage growth numbers for 2019. Payrolls increased by 145,000 missing expectations for 160,000 new jobs. 2019 was the slowest year for job creation since 2011, with an increase of 2.1 million jobs for the year; in comparison, 2.7 million jobs were added in 2018. The unemployment rate held steady at 3.5 percent, staying at a 50-year low.  2019 marked the tenth straight year of payroll growth.

Average annual hourly earnings rose by 2.9 percent, below expectations of 3.1 percent. December was the first month since July 2018, when wage growth fell below 3 percent on a year-over-year basis.

The positive news was the data on discouraged and underemployed workers fell to the lowest levels since 1994. Labor force participation held steady at 63.2 percent, and total employment levels rose to a new high at 158.8 million.

The news was disappointing overall, but not bad enough for the FOMC to consider lowering rates this month.