Saturday, 7 January 2006

US and European employment reports, plus an article on China

The US economy added disappointingly few jobs in December, but November numbers were revised up. Reuters reports.

U.S. employers added an unexpectedly few 108,000 jobs last month, but November's tally was revised up sharply, showing the U.S. economy was on track and bolstering a view that the Federal Reserve will soon end a string of interest rate rises.

The Labor Department on Friday revised up its estimate of November new jobs to 305,000 -- the best monthly showing since April 2004 -- bringing total jobs creation in 2005 to just over 2 million.

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent from 5 percent in November and, for a second consecutive full year, more than 2 million new jobs were created...

There also was a revision in the October jobs totals -- to an increase of 25,000 rather than 44,000 -- but for the two months of October and November, the net effect was 71,000 more jobs than the government previously had estimated...

U.S. manufacturers added 18,000 employees in December on top of 8,000 in November and 13,000 in October -- the first time since March-May 2004 that manufacturers have increased jobs for three consecutive months. But construction jobs declined by 9,000 last month, a reversal from November's 42,000 gain.

Overall, the employment figures imply a relatively strong hiring outlook. But modest gains in employment income -- with average hourly earnings up 5 cents in December to $16.34 -- may help to heighten expectations the Fed will soon be able to bring its 1-1/2-year rate-rise cycle to an end.

Tim Duy provides a monetary policy perspective of the jobs report at Economist's View.

I tend to think that despite a few setbacks in the details, policymakers will walk away with a relatively upbeat perspective on the labor markets. And that means it may be premature to think the Fed will shortly be done for good.

Meanwhile, Eurostat reported European unemployment figures for November yesterday.

Euro-zone seasonally-adjusted unemployment stood at 8.3% in November 2005, the same as in October. It was 8.8% in November 2004. The EU25 unemployment rate was 8.5% in November 2005, unchanged compared to October. It was 9.0% in November 2004.

European unemployment has been falling for over a year now, and with reports like this from Bloomberg, it's no wonder.

German industrial production rose 4.7 percent in November from a year earlier, the fastest pace in almost five years, capping a week of economic data suggesting growth in the dozen euro nations is gathering momentum.

But when you talk about the global employment and industrial picture, it's hard to leave out China. And the Economist's View posts a very good read on China's industrial development extracted from Harper's Magazine.

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