U.S. Economy Adds Nearly 300,000 Jobs in December
The American economy had a strong finish to 2015 with U.S. employers adding 292,000 in December, the Department of Labor reported Friday. In addition, hiring averaged 284,000 a month from October through the end of the year, making that period the best three month pace of the year by a wide margin.
During that time, the unemployment rate stayed at 5%, signaling that the job growth is a sign that more Americans are looking for and finding jobs.
The improved economy has led to an increase in consumer confidence and spending. Sales of new homes went up 15% in 2015, which in turn led to an explosion in construction hiring. Construction firms added 215,000 jobs last year. There was also a boon in auto sales, as economic improvement coupled with low gas prices led to a record year, especially for SUVs and pickup trucks.
Things aren’t all rosy for the U.S. economy however, as faltering economies overseas could lead to long-term challenges domestically.
The dollar has increased 10% in value over the past year, but other currencies haven’t matched that growth making exported U.S. goods more expensive while the price of imported goods dropped. According to Goldman Sachs, this led to exports falling to their lowest level in nearly four years, shaving .6 percentage points off of 2015’s economic growth.
Also, the lower gas prices touted above (that aided the car buying boom) had a detrimental effect as well. The core reason for lower gas prices is that oil is at its lowest price in over a decade. The oil industry has responded by cutting employee payrolls and spending on manufacturing expenditures, including expanded pipes and drilling equipment.