What to look for in the jobs report: Slower hiring suggests a soft landing

What to look for in the jobs report: Slower hiring suggests a soft landing

Analysts expect December’s jobs report to show that the labor market continued to cool but still added jobs at a solid pace as unemployment remained low.

  • Employers added 170,000 jobs in December, according to economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal. That would be down from November’s gain of 199,000 jobs, which was helped by the return of striking auto workers. Annual employment growth is expected to slow for a second consecutive month in 2023, but remained above pre-pandemic levels.
  • Economists estimate that the unemployment rate rose to 3.8% in December from 3.7% in November. The unemployment rate was 3.4% at the start of 2023, the lowest level since the late 1960s, but increased slightly towards the end of the year.
  • The Labor Department will release the December jobs report on Friday at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

“Substantial resilience”

There are signs that the tight labor market situation that prompted employers to offer big salary increases in early 2023 is continuing to ease. Employers had far fewer job vacancies at the end of 2023 than at the beginning, and employees were quitting less often than before the pandemic began. Still, unemployment and layoffs remain low and job vacancies are above 2019 levels, suggesting demand for workers is still solid.

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