We may be starting a New Year, but the U.S. employment picture seems stuck in the past. U.S. employers did add 155,000 jobs in December, according to the Employment Situation Summary just released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; but it wasn’t enough to change the unemployment rate which remains at 7.8%. Even worse, the report shows that average monthly job creation has remained stagnant over the past two years, averaging 153,000 jobs per month through 2011 and 2012.
Despite what most economic experts consider to be a slowly improving economy, the job picture is unlikely to change much over the next 12 months. That’s bad new for the more than 12 million Americans who are out of work. The only good news is that the feared decline in business activity and hiring that many economists worried might accompany Washington’s relentless wrangle over the fiscal cliff did not materialize.
Holiday spending, while weaker than hoped for by retailers, could have had a mitigating influence on December hiring decisions. Despite looming doubts about fiscal cliff repercussions, businesses that count on December sales to beef up their bottom line increased hiring during the holidays. However, continuing uncertainty about government spending cuts is expected to surface in January job statistics as fewer holiday part-timers are offered full-time jobs.
The need to rebuild after Superstorm Sandy also goosed December employment stats, sparking a 30,000 construction job boom in December. However, once recovery is completed, those jobs are likely to disappear.
The bottom line seems to be that, with regard to job growth, 2013 will be a disappointing repeat of the previous two years. And things could get much worse depending on what kinds of deals Congress eventually makes to keep the economy moving and drive down the country’s debt. Economic experts agree that Congress’ failure to take definitive action does both the economy and the job market more harm than good. Until business owners know what they might face in new taxes and regulations, most are unwilling to hire new workers.
For more information on the 2013 employment picture, read The Zoondy Daily.