Total non-farm payroll employment increased by 312,000 in December, and the unemploymentrate rose to 3.9%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The gain blew past economist expectations for 182,000 new jobs and ignited a broad rally on Wall Street.

Job gains occurred in health care, food services and drinking places, construction, manufacturing,and retail trade.

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"With more than 5,000,000 jobs added since the 2016 election, the American economy surpassed 150,000,000 jobs for the first time ever," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta.

Mike Fratantoni, chief economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association, was elated by the news. “Every aspect of the December jobs report was strong: more jobs, more people looking for work, and the fastest wage growth since 2009," he said in a statement. "With the latest revisions, the average job growth over the last three months – at 254,000 – is remarkably strong. This is good news for the housing market, where the strong job market boosts the confidence of potential home buyers. The strong reading was certainly needed, given the incredible stock market volatility this past month. With mortgage rates about a half point lower than late last year, the Fed likely to move more slowly going forward, and home-price growth slowing a bit, today’s report points to a still strong job market that should support a solid spring housing market in 2019.”

The unemployment rate rose by 0.2 percentage point to 3.9% in December, and thenumber of unemployed persons increased by 276,000 to 6.3 million. A year earlier, the
jobless rate was 4.1%, and the number of unemployed persons was 6.6 million.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.6%) andBlacks (6.6%) increased in December. The jobless rates for adult women (3.5%), teenagers (12.5%), Whites (3.4%), Asians (3.3%), and Hispanics (4.4%) showed little or no change over the month.

In December, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more)was little changed at 1.3 million and accounted for 20.5% of the unemployed.
Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed was down by 205,000. (See table A-12.)

The labor force participation rate, at 63.1%, changed little in December, and theemployment-population ratio was 60.6% for the third consecutive month.

Payroll employment rose by 2.6 million in 2018, compared with a gain of2.2 million in 2017.

Employment in health care rose by 50,000 in December. Within the industry, job gainsoccurred in ambulatory health care services (+38,000) and hospitals (+7,000). Health
care added 346,000 jobs in 2018, more than the gain of 284,000 jobs in 2017.

In December, employment in food services and drinking places increased by 41,000. Overthe year, the industry added 235,000 jobs, similar to the increase in 2017 (+261,000).

Construction employment rose by 38,000 in December, with job gains in heavy and civilengineering construction (+16,000) and nonresidential specialty trade construction
(+16,000). The construction industry added 280,000 jobs in 2018, compared with an
increase of 250,000 in 2017.

Manufacturing added 32,000 jobs in December. Most of the gain occurred in the durablegoods component (+19,000), with job growth in fabricated metal products (+7,000) and
in computer and electronic products (+4,000). Employment in the nondurable goods
component also increased over the month (+13,000). Manufacturing employment increased
by 284,000 over the year, with about three-fourths of the gain in durable goods
industries. Manufacturing had added 207,000 jobs in 2017.

In December, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose11 cents to $27.48. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by 84 cents,
or 3.2%. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory
employees increased by 9 cents to $23.05 in December.

The change in total non-farm payroll employment for November was revised up from +155,000to +176,000, and the change for October was revised up from +237,000 to +274,000. With
these revisions, employment gains in October and November combined were 58,000 more than
previously reported. After revisions, job gains have averaged 254,000
per month over the last 3 months.