After November’s surprisingly strong job growth, those rooting for the U.S. economy hoped to see the country end the year on a strong note. They got their wish.
The new report from Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the U.S. economy added 252,000 jobs in December. The overall unemployment rate dropped to 5.6%, its lowest point since June 2008 – six-and-a-half years ago.
Once again, public-sector layoffs did not drag down the overall employment figures. Though jobs reports over the last few years have shown monthly government job losses, in December, the private sector added 240,000 while the public sector added 23,000. The latter may not sound like much, but after several years in which that total was negative, it’s encouraging.
As for the revisions, all of the news was once again excellent: October’s totals were revised up from 243,000 to 261,000, while November’s figures were revised up, from 321,000 to 353,000. Combined, that’s an additional 50,000 jobs.
All told, these totals may not be quite as stunning as last month’s figures, but this is still a strong jobs report. Just as important, it wraps up an impressive year – in 2014, the U.S. economy added over 2.95 million jobs overall and 2.86 million in the private sector. What’s more, November was the 51st consecutive month of positive job growth – the best stretch since 1939 – and the 57th consecutive month in which we’ve seen private-sector job growth, which is the longest on record.
Last year was easily the best year for U.S. job creation since 1999, which Republicans may struggle to explain in light of the Affordable Care Act, higher taxes, and federal regulations.
Above you’ll find the chart I run every month, showing monthly job losses since the start of the Great Recession. The image makes a distinction – red columns point to monthly job totals under the Bush administration, while blue columns point to job totals under the Obama administration.
Update: Here’s another chart, this one showing monthly job losses/gains in just the private sector since the start of the Great Recession.
Second Update: OK, one more chart, this one showing the national unemployment rate since President Obama took office.