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Ball State Economist Says Latest Jobs Report Indicates a Slow-Growing Economy

Jan. 10, 2020
Factories lose 12,000 jobs; wage growth shrinks to 2.9%

The latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that nonfarm payrolls rose by 145,000 in December. The unemployment rate remained unchanged from November at 3.5%.

According to Ball State economist Michael Hicks, this month’s employment numbers may be particularly important for gauging the economy. That’s because November’s numbers were affected by the end of the UAW/GM strike. The strike could have affected about 75,000 jobs, including 41,000 striking workers and an estimated 34,000 non-striking workers.

“The November jobs report saw employment grow by 145,000, with downward revisions for the past two months accounting for 14,000 fewer jobs,” Hicks, the director of Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research, wrote in an email.

Hicks identified December employment declines in mining (which lost 8,000 jobs); factories (which lost 12,000); and transportation and logistics (which lost 10,400) as signs of a slowdown. “These are all signs of a slowing economy, which is consistent with most recent forecasts, including those released by CBER at Ball State,” he wrote.

“Overall, this jobs report is consistent with an economy growing below 2%, accompanied by weakening wage gains,” Hicks wrote. Wages grew at a slower rate of 2.9%, compared to the yearly average of 3%. “The good news is that employment options remain available, and the unemployment rate [is] steady.”

Scott Paul, the President of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, said in a statement that the report marked “A pretty grim end of the decade for factory workers.”

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