US employers dramatically stepped up their hiring in December, adding 312,000 jobs in an encouraging display of strength for an economy in the midst of a trade war, slowing global growth, and a partial shutdown of the federal government, per the AP. The figure is far higher than the 176,000 predicted by economists, reports the Wall Street Journal. The Labor Department says the unemployment rate rose slightly to 3.9%, but that reflected a surge in jobseekers—a positive for growth. Average hourly pay improved 3.2% from a year ago.
The health care, food services, construction, and manufacturing sectors were the primary contributors to last month's hiring. The strong job gains suggest that the tumbling stock market has yet to depress expectations that the economy will expand for a 10th straight year. Still, growth is likely to slow as the stimulus from last year's tax cuts wane. Dow and S&P 500 futures suggested the stock market would rise at the open as investors pore over the jobs details.
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