In December the United States added 145,000 jobs while the unemployment rate remained at 3.5%. As we enter an election year, the labor force is tight and the unemployment rate sits at a half-century low.
Friday’s summary from the Department of Labor reports a 2.9% rise in hourly wages last year. Wage growth is slightly lower than in previous decades; in the 1990s wage growth peaked at 4.3%.
Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, told the Washington Post that wage growth disappointingly shows “an economy where you can get a job, but it’s harder to get a raise.”
Wage growth for African-Americans now surpasses wage growth for white Americans. The unemployment rate for African-Americans hit a record low in 2019.
Top Trump officials also report a working-class boom. Average wage growth for non-manager roles is outpacing wage growth for managers.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow says the jobs report, along with a healthy stock market, indicates a strong economy for 2020.
“The rising stock market is indicating a lot of business and consumer confidence, in my judgment,” Kudlow told the Washington Times. “And I think it’s forecasting essentially an even stronger economy in the coming year.”