Economy Adds 157,000 Jobs, Ending Best Year Since 1999
By EDMUND L. ANDREWS
Published: January 7, 2005
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 --- The economy added 157,000 jobs in December, the Labor
Department said today, a sign that job creation remains steady but that
employers in many industries are still cautious about hiring.
During all of 2004, the nation added about 2.2 million jobs --- the biggest
gain since 1999 and the first growth since 2000 --- but that was barely
enough to replace the jobs lost during President Bush's first term in
Economists said the new report reinforced the likelihood that economic
growth would be moderate in 2005, but that growth as well as job creation
would be slower than they were in 2004.
"It's a wet firecracker," said Richard Yamarone, chief economist at Argus
Research, a forecasting firm in New York.
"This is positive job creation, but it pales in comparison with what we have
had in previous economic recoveries."
The good news in today's employment report was that job creation was
stronger than originally estimated in October and November, with the Labor
Department increasing its estimate for those two months by 34,000 jobs.
Weekly wages climbed slightly faster, because workers put in more hours on
average, but both measures of pay lagged behind the last year's inflation
rate of 3.5 percent.
Manufacturing companies, which shed more than two million jobs between 2000
and the end of 2003, added back only 96,000 jobs in 2004 --- possibly the
weakest rebound in factory employment of any economic recovery on record in
the United States.
Employment in health care services climbed 342,000.
But one notable weakness in the job market was in retail sales, which shed
roughly 20,000 jobs in December on a seasonally adjusted basis.
Retail sales rose 3.1 percent compared with those a year earlier, but only
after many merchants marked down a substantial portion of their inventories
just before Christmas.
Summarized by Copernic Summarizer