United States: Job gains exceed expectations again in December
Total non-farm payrolls increased by 223,000 in December, down from 256,000 in November but beating market expectations of 200,000. Employment gains were particularly strong in leisure and hospitality, health care, construction, and social assistance. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell to 3.5% from 3.6% in November.
All in all, the data shows the labor market remained healthy in Q4, with payroll gains exceeding market expectations throughout the quarter. However, payroll gains continued to trend gradually downwards, and nominal wage growth tracked below inflation. Looking ahead, the Consensus is for the labor market to lose steam heading into 2023 as the economy slackens amid higher interest rates, with the unemployment rate forecast to move back above 4% this year.