Consumers continue to support strong economic performance.
Despite a considerable amount of political intrigue globally and domestically, the U.S. economy enters 2019 with plenty of momentum. Nowhere is this more apparent than in America’s labor market. Through December 2018, the nation has added employment for a record 99 consecutive months, an unrivaled winning streak in the nation’s history. America added 312,000 net new jobs in December, dwarfing the consensus expectations of 176,000 net new jobs.
The unemployment rate ended last year at 3.9 percent. In 2018, the U.S. economy added more than 2.6 million net new jobs, rendering it the 3rd best year for job growth since the recession a decade ago. Last year also represents the 3rd most productive year since the turn of the century.
In percentage terms, the total number of jobs expanded by 1.8 percent. While that is slower than the peak growth years of 2014 and 2015, it represented a meaningful acceleration relative to 2017. The 3.9 percent unemployment rate represents the lowest year-end reading since December 2000. Perhaps most importantly, there were 2.6 million net labor force entrants in 2018, the most since 2006 and the 3rd most in the 60+ years during which the Bureau of Labor Statistics has collected these data.