Unemployment Improved in December, but Not for Accountants

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 252,000 in December, and the unemployment rate declined two-tenths of a percentage point to 5.6 percent. While job gains occurred in professional and business services, along with other industries such as construction, food services and drinking places, health care, and manufacturing, December's job losses in accounting and bookkeeping offset the gains in November.

Employment in professional and business services rose by 52,000 in December. Monthly job gains in the industry averaged 61,000 in 2014. Employment in accounting and bookkeeping services declined by 14,000 jobs, offsetting an increase of the same amount in November.

In December, employment increased in other professional and business services such as administrative and waste services, whuich was up 35,000 jobs, computer systems design and related services (+9,000), and architectural and engineering services (+5,000).

However average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased by 5 cents to $24.57 in December, following an increase of 6 cents in November.

"We can't be satisfied until our country is meeting its full potential,” said Rep Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the new chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, in a statement. “That’s why, at the Ways and Means Committee, we’re going to do all we can to build a healthy economy and move America forward: fix our tax code, help create jobs, and make health care more affordable. The American people deserve nothing less."

Overall the jobs report indicated robust growth in employment.

“Today’s job’s report—again—was very strong and shows the labor market is maturing and economy performing soundly. It is the largest increase in employment since 1999,” said National Retail Federation (NRF) Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “However the earnings data was a bit disappointing. Though the labor market slack is diminishing, the drop in energy prices and anemic wage growth, the Federal Reserve appears to have more runway for its ‘liftoff” of short-term rates.”

Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, pointed out in a blog post on the White House website that the private sector has added 11.2 million jobs over 58 straight months of job growth, extending the longest streak on record.

“Today’s solid employment report caps off a strong year for the U.S. labor market, which achieved a number of important milestones in 2014,” he wrote. “Total job growth last year was the strongest since 1999, while the unemployment rate fell at the fastest pace in three decades. Although nominal wages fell in December, inflation-adjusted wages have generally been rising, and job growth has picked up in sectors that traditionally provide good, middle-class jobs.”

He pointed out that this week, President Obama laid out a vision to build on this progress by increasing access to community college, supporting the recovery in the housing sector and investing in U.S. manufacturing. “On top of these steps, the President looks forward to working with Congress and taking action on his own authority to invest in America’s infrastructure, close tax loopholes and encourage job creation in America, support working families, expand overseas markets for American goods and services, make common-sense reforms to the immigration system, and raise the minimum wage,” Furman added.

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