Hiring, Wages Ease in December

The U.S. labor market is losing momentum as hiring and wage growth cooled in December, showing the effects of slower economic growth and the Federal Reserve’s interest-rate increases.

After two straight years of record-setting payroll growth following the pandemic-related disruptions, the labor market is starting to show signs of stress. That suggests 2023 could bring slower hiring or outright job declines as the overall economy slows or tips into recession.

Employers added 223,000 jobs in December, the smallest gain in two years, the Labor Department said Friday. Average hourly earnings were up 4.6% in December from the previous year, the narrowest increase since mid-2021, and down from a March peak of 5.6%.

All told, employers added 4.5 million jobs in 2022, the second-best year of job creation after 2021, when the labor market rebounded from Covid-19 shutdowns and added 6.7 million jobs. Last year’s gains were concentrated in the first seven months of the year. More recent data and a wave of tech and finance-industry layoffs suggest the labor market, while still vibrant, is cooling.

“I do expect the economy to slow noticeably by June, and in the second half of the year we’ll see a greater pace of slowing if not outright contraction,” said Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM U.S.

Source: WSJ.com