C&W Report: Best Labor Market Since 1999


by Ken McCarthy
Senior Managing Director
Economic Analysis and Forecasting

January 25, 2015

Best U.S. Labor Market Since 1999
The U.S. economy added 252,000 jobs in December 2014, capping the best year for the U.S. labor market since 1999. In sectors that tend to influence commercial real estate, employment growth was generally healthy. Office-using employment increased by 64,000 jobs.

The unemployment rate fell to 5.6%, its lowest level since June 2008, and the underemployment rate (including discouraged and part time workers) declined to 11.2%, also its lowest level in more than five years.

Despite the apparent tightening of the job market, average hourly earnings fell 0.2% ($0.05) in December, the first decline in more than three years.

Job Growth
The U.S. economy continued to add jobs at a robust pace in December as non-farm payroll employment increased by 252,000 jobs. The strength of labor markets was reinforced by an upward revision in employment in both October and November. Job growth in October is now reported at 261,000 (up from 243,000 previously reported) and in November the economy is now estimated to have added 353,000 jobs (up from 321,000). Over the final three months of 2014, the economy added 866,000 jobs, the most in a calendar quarter since the first quarter of 2006. From December 2013 to December 2014 the economy added 2.95 million jobs, the most for a calendar year since 1999.

Employment grew in 64% of the industries tracked by the Labor Department. Among major sectors, job growth was strong in: professional and business services (+52,000), construction (+48,000), education and health (+48,000), leisure and hospitality (+36,000) and manufacturing (+17,000). In sectors with a significant impact on commercial real estate, there was solid job growth. Office-using industries (the sum of financial, information and professional and business services) added 64,000 jobs in December, capping the year with an increase of 868,000 jobs, also the most since 1999.

Manufacturing & Warehousing Industries
Employment in the manufacturing, warehousing and distribution industries topped 15 million jobs for the first time since January 2009 and was up 279,000 jobs from a year ago. Retail employment grew moderately in December, up 8,000 jobs in the month and 250,000 from a year ago.

In addition, employment in the food service (restaurant) sector increased 44,000 jobs in the month. Total retail plus food services reached a record high in December and was 610,000 above its year-ago level. The unemployment rate fell to 5.6% as the number of unemployed persons declined by 383,000. Over the 12 months of 2014, the unemployment rate fell by 110 basis points.

However, the labor force participation rate, the share of the population that is actively engaged in working or looking for work, fell to its lowest level since 1977 at 62.7%, down from 62.9% in November.

For the complete report, please visit the Cushman & Wakefield corporate website.



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