Hicks: Labor Market in For a 'Rough Year'

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A Ball State University economist says the December national jobs report is "disappointing on all fronts." Center for Business and Economic Research Director Mike Hicks says many of the 74,000 jobs added last month were part-time and the labor force declined by 347,000.

January 10, 2014

News Release

Muncie, Ind. -- The U.S. economy added just 74,000 jobs last month, the first evidence that the labor market is in for a rough year, says Ball State economist Michael Hicks.

As reflected by today's report from the U.S. Labor Department, December was the weakest month for job growth since January, 2011. The news shocked many economists, who were anticipating the U.S. labor market to expand by 193,000 jobs. The economy added 203,000 jobs in November.

Hicks points out that while many elements of the economy are improving, labor markets show an uncanny weakness.

"December's job report was a return to the weak job reports that have plagued us for most of 2013," says Hicks, director of Ball State's Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER). "After some welcome news for job creation in November, December's overall employment picture is disappointing on all fronts."

Hicks says total non-farm job creation is a fraction of the rate that a solid recovery needs to reduce large-scale unemployment.

"More troubling, of those jobs, 31,000 were part-time for economic reasons," he says. "Even more worrisome was that the labor force declined by a whopping 347,000 persons. So, out of every 10 new jobs created last month, four were part time and 46 people were looking for work."

Source: Ball State University