Consistent Employment Growth in 2013

Today’s Employment Situation report showed the economy added fewer jobs than expected in December 2013.  What this says to me is that, while we’ve made substantial progress in getting the country back to work– adding 8.2 million private sector jobs over the past 46 months – we have more work to do.  It’s also important to remember that one month’s data does not make a trend. Looking at the 3-month change helps to smooth over some of the natural volatility in the month-to-month changes.

3-Month Net Change in Total Private Employment, January 2009-December 2013. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics Program.

As you can see in the chart above, 530,000 jobs were added in the preceding 3-months, which is fairly consistent over the past year. On average, 182,000 jobs were added each month in 2013, a robust figure given the multiple headwinds the economy faced last year. The job losses reported last month are not consistent with the trends we saw over the year. For example, construction lost 16,000 in December, but posted a net gain of 122,000 throughout 2013.  Health and education was flat last month, but up 327,000 for the year.

Employment in Major Industries Since the Employment Trough, February 2010 - December 2013. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics Program.

We have more work to do. The fastest way to get people back to work is to grow the economy, but to do that we have to make smart investments to create the conditions for growth.  President Obama has laid out a strategy for growth – invest in infrastructure, invest in education and skills development, fix our broken immigration system and raise the minimum wage.

Follow Secretary Tom Perez on Twitter as @LaborSec.

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