FXstreet.com (Barcelona) - Paul Ashworth, Chief US Economist at
Capital Economics notes that the 155,000 increase in US non-farm
payrolls in December is yet another month of job growth that is
just about enough to keep pace with the underlying growth in the
labour force, but not enough to drive the unemployment rate
He writes, "This has been the story throughout the recovery that
began more than three years ago. The unemployment rate remained
unchanged at a still elevated 7.8% last month, with November's
figure being revised up from 7.7%. Admittedly, the 155,000 gain is
perhaps better than it looks given that firms were probably nervous
about adding workers with the fiscal cliff looming."
However, he notes that that gain also included an additional 30,000
construction jobs that were probably a result of the temporary
boost from post-Sandy rebuilding. Retail employment actually fell
by 11,000 in December, suggesting that the holiday shopping season
ended with a whimper. The 11,000 drop in courier jobs also suggests
that online shopping was down a little.
There were some positive signs in this report. Average hours worked
edged up to 34.5, from 34.4. Average hourly earnings increased by
0.3% m/m and, thanks to upward revisions to past months' gains as
well, earnings increased by 2.1% over last year as a whole.
Ashworth finishes by writing, "Nevertheless, the overall picture is
that the labour market remains lacklustre. If this state of affairs
continues throughout most of this year, as we expect, then it is
hard to see the Fed dialing back or stopping its QE purchases as
some officials currently envisage."