Jobs growth in the US remained strong last month even as the economy wrestled with the impact of fast-rising prices.
Emplyers added 223,000 positions in December, pushing the jobless rate down to 3.5%, from 3.6% in November. The resilience of the labour market has raised hopes that the world’s largest economy will avoid a severe economic downturn this year.
The US central bank is raising borrowing costs to try to cool the economy and ease the price pressures. As firms struggle with the impact of higher interest rates and the possibility of lower consumer spending, recent news of big job cuts at banks and tech companies, such as Amazon, has drawn attention.
But the monthly report from the US Labor Department showed nearly every sector in the economy adding jobs, with bars and restaurants, health care firms and construction businesses helping to drive the gains. Though job losses are rising – especially in the tech sector – the figures overall remained near historic lows last year, said Andrew Challenger, senior vice president at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which has been tracking such announcements since the 1990s.
“The overall economy is still creating jobs, though employers appear to be actively planning for a downturn,” he said.