With the stock market in flux and certain economic indicators looking shaky, some analysts have begun to toss around the R-word: Recession. There's no denying that certain soft spots and worrisome signs do exist, and foolish trade wars are throwing a wet blanket on tax reform's important progress. All that being said, the final jobs report of 2018 landed today with a boom, packed with all sorts of good news -- including a shocking beat on jobs created:
December Jobs: HUGE 312,000 new payrolls vs. 177,000 consensus. 3.9% unemployment rate, up 0.2%, as participation rate also rises. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by 84 cents, or 3.2%.— James Pethokoukis (@JimPethokoukis) January 4, 2019
U.S. employers added the most workers in 10 months as wage gains accelerated and labor-force participation jumped, reflecting a robust job market that nevertheless faces mounting risks in 2019. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 312,000 in December, easily topping all forecasts, after an upwardly revised 176,000 gain the prior month, a Labor Department report showed Friday. Average hourly earnings rose 3.2 percent from a year earlier, more than projected and matching the fastest pace since 2009. Meanwhile, the jobless rate rose from a five-decade low to 3.9 percent, reflecting more people actively seeking work.
These are excellent outcomes, demonstrating the enduring strength of major elements of the US economy. Once again, the 'experts' were caught off guard. That said, it's not all rainbows and butterflies:
Gotta wonder where these investment figures would be in the absence of the trade war (which US & global CEOs repeatedly said was causing them to delay/cancel investments in 2018) https://t.co/IIfUabhQSV— Scott Lincicome (@scottlincicome) January 3, 2019
U.S. stocks tumbled Thursday, as weak economic data and a rare sales warning from Apple sparked fresh worries among investors about a global slowdown. A confluence of factors from the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy to renewed U.S.-China trade tensions have weighed down financial markets in recent weeks. Adding to investors’ fears, manufacturing data around the world have pointed to slowing momentum.
The economy is still robust, but bad policies (continued trade fights, or Democratic tax hikes) could stall the momentum. Long term, however, somebody had to get serious about the debt. I won't hold my breath.