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January 7, 2017

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Growth in US jobs slows but wages rally

US employment increased less than expected in December but a rebound in wages pointed to sustained labor market momentum that sets up the economy for stronger growth and further interest rate increases from the Federal Reserve this year.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 156,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said yesterday. The gains, however, are more than sufficient to absorb new entrants into the labor market.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen has said the economy needs to create just under 100,000 jobs a month to keep up with growth in the work-age population. Employers hired 19,000 more workers than previously reported in October and November.

“Job creation and overall labor market conditions remain solid. With the potential for stronger fiscal stimulus in the form of infrastructure spending and tax cuts, job creation appears likely to remain on a solid footing in 2017,” said Jim Baird, chief investment officer for Plante Moran Financial Advisors in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

The economy created 2.16 million jobs in 2016. Average hourly earnings rose 10 cents or 0.4 percent in December after dipping 0.1 percent in November. That pushed the year-on-year rise in earnings to 2.9 percent, the largest gain since June 2009, from 2.5 percent in November.

The jobless rate edged up to 4.7 percent from a nine-year low of 4.6 percent in November as more people entered the labor force.


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