Encouraging Signs from November U.S. Jobs Report
The U.S. economy added 228,000 jobs for November, and the unemployment rate held rock-steady at 4.1 percent as well, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Average hourly earnings for the trailing 12-month period were up by 2.5 percent.
Though it's a close race sometimes, wages continue to (barely) outpace inflation as they grow steadily and slowly. Source: Wall Street Journal under the "Earning More" heading
This keeps us in the situation of low but steady growth that's characterized the job market for the past two years or so, despite the occasional up or down tick in job growth numbers we've seen intermittently over that period. Fortune and other sources observe that wage growth remains somewhat sluggish, but many economists predict that it will accelerate in 2018 (see the Wall Street Journal item "Economists Aren't Giving Up on Wage Growth"), perhaps to as high as 3 percent.
This should make our new President ecstatic, as he's been predicting this as a natural consequence of the tax reform bills still underway in our national legislature. To offset the ebullience this may provoke, it's also important to observe that monthly job growth for 2017 so far has averaged 174,000, while the average for 2016 was 7 percent higher, at 187,000 jobs per month.
A look at the major sectors shows both expected and some surprising gains. Professional and business services added 46,000 jobs in November, and that sector has added 548,000 jobs over the past 12 months. That means November's figures nearly match the average over the preceding year (46,000 for November versus 45, 667 for the average).
Construction (+23,000) and manufacturing (+31,000) showed interesting and surprising gains. Health care continues its steady pace, with 30,000 jobs added for the month, above the 24,000 monthly average for 2017, but below the 32,000 average for the preceding year. The BLS report states that other sectors were little changed, including our own home sector of information.
Turning to CompTIA's U.S. IT Sector press release for November 2017, we get a little more detail about our home sector and related IT employment across the entire economy. CompTIA reports a gain of 8,100 jobs for the month in the IT sector itself (a miniscule gain, based on CompTIA's estimate of sector size at around 4.45M workers).
Overall gains for the sector come in at 223,000 for 2017 so far, for a growth rate of 5.01 percent for the year. That's actually pretty good news for IT overall, because it's approaching double the annual growth rate for jobs overall.
CompTIA's Employment Tracker for November also estimates IT occupation employment (which refers to people doing IT jobs in non-IT companies) at 5.05 million. That's up from 4.68 million in November 2016, for an annual growth rate of 7.3 percent, even better than growth in our home IT sector.
What does it all mean for 2018? Good question! Labor economists in particular, and economists in general, seem pretty bullish about prospects for the New Year. Wages are widely expected to increase for all workers, and prospects for IT workers look somewhat better than that because of a consistent pattern of leading the economy in wage and job growth.
If the average growth for all jobs does hit 3 percent in 2018, then it's not inconceivable that it could top 5 percent for IT workers. Wouldn't that be a nice thing to see happen for all of us next year? Time will tell.
Happy holidays to all my readers, to those who celebrate them. May you find joy and contentment in the season, and spend lots of quality time with friends and family. Best wishes!