According to the Department of Labor (DOL), more than 2.95 million jobs were created last year. The latest figures confirm that 2014 was America’s best year of job growth since 1999. And economists believe 2015 will see similar numbers, if not better.
From CNN Money:
The unemployment rate fell to 5.6% in December, down from 5.8% in November. That’s also a big drop from the 6.7% rate in December 2013. It’s expected to hit 5.2% — around the normal level — by the end of the year, according to CNNMoney’s survey of economists.
But the U.S. added over 200,000 jobs every month in 2014 except two. The end of the year was especially strong with 252,000 positions added in December. That was ahead of CNNMoney’s economist forecast of 236,000.
The government also revised up its estimates for job gains in October and November, revealing employers added more than 50,000 jobs than previously thought. November was already the best month of the year for job gains.
“American businesses are on a hiring binge,” said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets. “It clearly suggests the economy is on a much stronger growth track than the first four years of the recovery.”
The only drawback to all this good news? Wages. Average hourly earnings fell in December from the previous month, according to the DOL.
Wages were up 1.7% over the past year, but that’s barely ahead of the pace of inflation — meaning workers really aren’t better off.
“There’s still no sign of wage acceleration. It leaves you scratching your head a little bit,” said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial.
Also, the number of long-term unemployed, those jobless for 27 weeks or longer, was unchanged at 2.8 million. That figure has declined by 1.1 million over the past year, but is still much higher than normal.
But overall, recovery from the Great Recession is slow, but sure. From DOL.gov:
- Nearly 3 million jobs in 2014, the best year since 1999.
- This is the longest streak of private sector job growth on record: 58 straight months.
- Then: U.S. lost nearly 4.5 million jobs the year before President Obama took office. Now: we’ve had 11 consecutive months with employment growth above 200,000.
- The vast majority of jobs created during the recovery have been full-time jobs.
- We’ve created GOOD JOBS. In the past year alone: professional & business services is up 732,000 jobs; education & health services is up 482,000 jobs; construction is up 290,000 jobs; and manufacturing is up 186,000 jobs.
For more information on the latest figures and for a list of things you should know about the 2014 economy, click here.