U.S. Jobs Report Highlights Economy’s Strength Despite Market Tumult
Even wages, which for months only inched up, have begun to pick up more quickly. Year-over-year wage growth in December, at 3.2 percent, tied October for the highest gain since 2009. The recovery has gone on for so long that it has finally begun to lift the lowest-paid workers, who have seen the biggest gains, and African Americans, whose jobless rate has reached record lows.
“2018 was a banner year for the labor market,” said Ms. Pollak of ZipRecruiter. And while it’s hard to imagine the jobless rate dipping much lower, there are still Americans who either do not have jobs or are not clocking as many hours as they would like. The share of people have part-time positions but would prefer to work full time is higher today than it was in 2007.
And a far smaller share of the American population is working today than before the recession. That decline is partly because of the aging of the baby boom generation. But even among people in their prime working years, employment is down from before the recession, and far below its peak at the height of the dot-com boom.
“We still have room to grow,” Ms. Pollak said. “We are not yet at maximum employment.”
The Shadow of the Trade War
Global growth is slowing. The Trump administration is waging a trade war with China. And on Wednesday, Apple cut its revenue forecast for the first time in 16 years, citing flagging iPhone sales in China.
On Thursday, Kevin Hassett, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said on CNN that Apple would not be the only victim of tensions with Beijing.
“There are a heck of a lot of U.S. companies that have a lot of sales in China that are basically going to be watching their earnings be downgraded next year until we get a deal with China,” Mr. Hassett told the network.
Mr. Trump has indicated that he would like to cut a deal with Beijing, and the market turmoil, along with Apple’s announcement, may add to the pressure to end the dispute.