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Economy Added 148,000 Jobs In December As Goldilocks Sticks Around

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The U.S. economy added 148,000 jobs in December, while the unemployment rate held at 4.1%, the Labor Department said on Friday.

Wall Street economists expected a gain of 190,000 jobs and steady 4.1% jobless rate.

[ibd-display-video id=3065146 width=50 float=left autostart=true] Average hourly wages rose 9 cents to $26.63 an hour, up 2.5% from a year earlier. That was in line with the expected 2.5%, still the Goldilocks reading markets enjoyed throughout 2017.

Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures moved higher after the jobs report, with the major indexes hitting record highs early Friday. The 10-year Treasury yield slipped after the jobs and wage data that bolstered the case for the Federal Reserve to go slow in hiking its key interest rate.

The continuation of tepid average wage gains comes amid a recent surge in federal withheld employment and income taxes . Over the last couple of months, Americans' paychecks have been growing at nearly the best rate in a decade.

The stronger tax receipts may reflect a sugar high padded by early Christmas bonuses - AT&T ( T ) and Comcast ( CMCSA ) were among the companies pledging $1,000 bonuses for hundreds of thousands of employees as tax legislation crossed the finish line.

Meanwhile, a host of big banks including Wells Fargo ( WFC ), PNC Financial Services ( PNC ) and Fifth Third Bank ( FITB ) have announced a $15 minimum wage since tax cuts passed. Wells Fargo is hiking its base wage from $13.50 an hour, but those won't show up until 2018.

To help boost recruitment in a tight job market, Target (TGT) hiked its minimum wage to $11 an hour from $10 in October, with plans to get to $15 an hour by the end of 2020. Target announced 100,000 seasonal hires, up from 70,000, while (AMZN) planned to add 120,000 seasonal jobs, same as a year ago.

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For the second straight year, Wal-Mart (WMT) said it would give employees more hours rather than hire seasonal workers, so longer workweeks on top of solid payroll gains could be padding paychecks. Wal-Mart last raised its base wage to $10 an hour in February 2016.

Labor Department data showed that the retail sector shed 20,000 jobs in December. Nonstore retailers such as Amazon added just 200 jobs.

The ADP employment report out Thursday indicated that 250,000 private-sector jobs were added in December. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, which helps produce the ADP report, credited a strong Christmas selling season. "Robust Christmas sales prompted retailers and delivery services to add to their payrolls."

October and November job gains were revised own by a combined 9,000, leaving the average monthly job gain at 204,000 over the past three months, the government said.


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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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