- The Labour Department is set to release its official December employment report Friday.
- It’s expected to show an increase in hiring and wage growth after a modest November.
- The report comes at a tumultuous time in financial markets.
Providing the latest snapshot of the US economy, the Labour Department’s December employment report out Friday will likely show hiring and wages picked up at the end of 2018.
Economists expect the report out at 8:30 a.m. ET will show nonfarm payrolls rose by 184,000 jobs last month, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg. That would come after the job market fell short of expectations in November, when 155,000 jobs were added.
The unemployment rate is seen holding steady at 3.7%, its lowest level since 1969 during the Vietnam draft. Following modest gains of 0.2% in November, economists estimate average hourly earnings rose 0.3% last month.
A strong employment report could offer some relief to global markets, which have reeled in recent months from a flood of concerns including slowing economic growth. In the US, stocks ended their worst year since 2008 on Monday.
“The drop in stock prices likely will depress the numbers somewhat over the next couple of months, but for now all the indicators of labour demand we follow are very robust,” said Ian Sheperdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.
Data out this week have fanned fears that the nine-year economic expansion is running out of steam. Alongside trade tensions and rising rates, an increasing number of economists have even forecast a recession could begin by 2020.
On Thursday, a gauge of factory activity in the US fell by the most in a decade. That followed weaker-than-expected manufacturing figures from the eurozone and China, underscoring expectations for other major economies around the world to slow.
But employment components of the latest regional surveys and initial claims data suggest labour demand remains strong, according to Lewis Alexander, an analyst at Nomura.
“We expect the December employment report to remind markets that the US growth outlook remains stable despite financial market volatility,” he said.
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