The nation is nearing one of the biggest economic recoveries in decades, shows new data released by the government, but some workers have lagged behind as President Barack Obama is nearing the end of his second and final term.
The economy in the U.S. added 156,000 jobs during December reported the Labor Department on Friday, which was slightly less than expectations on Wall Street.
However, wages increased 2.9% compared to December of last year, the biggest increase in over 7 years and more evidence that growth in the economy has translated finally to gains for workers.
The data from the final full month of the Obama presidency was a huge contrast from the U.S. economy during January of 2009, when Obama entered the White House amidst a deep recession.
Back then, the rate of unemployment was 7.8%. In December of 2016, the rate was 4.7%. The drop in unemployment is the second biggest drop in unemployment rates during a presidency after that of Bill Clinton, since 1953.
December was the 75th consecutive month of growth in jobs, the longest streak of growth in the U.S. since 1939.
Republicans were not so positive about the state of the economy. One Republican in Congress said that bright spots from the report were welcoming, but the job creation for 2016 was the worst the country has had in many years.
The congressman said the election of Donald Trump reignited the people’s confidence in the U.S. in the economy because they realize that growing the U.S. economy is Trump’s top priority.
The dollar strengthened following the release of the report, while the Dow closed in on 20,000 and the S&P 500 passed an historic high.
Economists surveyed were expecting companies to add over 180,000 new jobs in December. Nevertheless, the new jobs added during December was much higher than needed to maintain the population growth, said economists, and the revisions to job figures of both October and November increased jobs by 19,000.
The average hourly earnings were up 10 cents from the prior month to $26 during December.
The amount of new jobs each month had slowed gradually as the economy is recovering from the recession. In 2014, the average monthly job gains stood at 251,000, while in 2015 it was 229,000 and 189,000 for 2016.
Trump pledged to increase the size of the economy in the U.S. by lowering regulations and taxes for companies, boosting spending on infrastructure and reviving the manufacturing sector across the country.