U.S. added 292,000 jobs in December

National unemployment rate holds steady at 5 percent

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:08 am

U.S. employers added 292,000 nonfarm jobs in December, with particular growth in professional and business services, construction, health care, and food services and drinking places, according to seasonally adjusted data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The number of jobs added in October was revised up to 307,000 (from 298,000, as originally reported) and in November was revised up to 252,000 (from 211,000, as originally reported). Over the last three months, job gains in the U.S. have averaged 284,000 per month.

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Southeastern Wisconsin hiring was strong in December in technology, accounting and finance, said Rachel Idso, Milwaukee branch manager at staffing firm Robert Half International.

“Things are looking much better,” Idso said. “We have added jobs in December in both the professional and business services. We also saw an upswing in temperature help here in Milwaukee, too, so things are looking up.”

Idso expects the hiring market to remain strong in 2016, and for the increase in demand to drive wage growth in the Milwaukee area this year.

“We are seeing a shortage in available candidates versus job openings,” she said. “How I think Milwaukee is overcoming it is that employers are having to take a more realistic view of compensation and be more strategic with how they present their compensation packages to their candidates.”

Mining jobs, however, continued to decline on a national scale in December. Milwaukee’s Joy Global Inc. announced in November it will close its Orchard Street plant this month and lay off 59 employees. The mining equipment manufacturer has struggled in a sluggish mining sector over the past several quarters.

Wholesale trade, retail trade, financial activities and government employment remained steady in December.

The national unemployment rate also held steady in December, at 5 percent. Last week, the BLS released preliminary unadjusted data that shows the Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis metropolitan area saw its unemployment rate decrease from 5.3 percent to 4.4 percent over the 12 month period ending in November.

Read more economic data reports on the BizTracker page.

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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