The unemployment rate among Hispanics in the United States remained unchanged in December at 4.2%, compared to 3.5% for the country’s overall population, in a new sign of the strength of the labor market.
That rate, which stood at 4.4% in December 2018, had fallen to 3.9% in September, the best recent figure for unemployment among Latinos, and has since slowly increased.
The data shows that 64.3% of the Latino population was employed in December, compared to 64.6% the previous month.
In terms of the overall economy, the Department of Labor’s figures show that the country continues to be close to full employment, although the creation of 145,000 new jobs in December was below the 165,000 that analysts expected.
In all of 2019, the country added 2.11 million jobs, compared to 2.7 million in 2018, but it still marked the ninth consecutive year in which this figure exceeded 2 million.
The average monthly job creation in the last three months of 2019 was 184,000 jobs, the same pace as the rest of the year.
The labour market ended the year with a positive outlook and far from the 10% unemployment rate in October 2009, when the country was just emerging from the Great Recession.
Meanwhile, average worker pay rose by three cents in December, or 0.1%, to an average of $28.32 an hour.
Thus, the increase in wages over 12 months reached 2.9% in December, compared to the 3.1% rise in the previous month, the government reported.
Some analysts point out that workers’ pay is not growing at the pace that would be healthy, especially for those who do not benefit from the minimum wage increases approved in 21 states and 26 municipalities and counties.
The report also corrected the number of jobs created in November to 256,000 – 10,000 fewer than it had estimated in the previous report.
Most of the new jobs were in the service sector, where retail added 41,000 jobs, hotels and restaurants hired 40,000 workers and the health care sector added 28,000 jobs.
The construction sector hired 20,000 more people, but the manufacturing sector lost 12,000 jobs and ended the year with an increase of just 46,000 jobs.
The Labor Department report indicated that the labor participation rate remained unchanged at 63.2% in December.
The data shows that in December, for the fourth month in a row, 61% of the population was employed, which is 0.4% above the figure a year earlier.
The monthly unemployment report continues to put off the concerns of many analysts who for months have predicted a negative impact of the trade battles waged by President Donald Trump, in particular the disputes with China.
The world’s two largest economies announced last month the initial phase of a trade agreement that is expected to be signed this January 15.
Still, two-thirds of imports from China, worth about $360 billion, remain subject to tariffs imposed by Trump, who has said he will add tariffs on more imports from Europe this month.
Unemployment is one of the most favourable elements of the national economy, whose growth slowed in the third quarter of last year to an annual rate of 2.1%, after having grown by 3.1% between January and March and by 2% in the second quarter of the year.
To sustain this economic growth, the Federal Reserve lowered its benchmark interest rate three times last year, a contribution to the expansion that has been going on for 11 years now.
In November, the economy also registered a year-on-year inflation of 2.1%, the highest figure in a year, after the consumer price index (CPI) rose 3 tenths in that month.