Like others, we cannot wait for that first Friday of each month. Why, because, this is when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics typically releases employment information. From this data, we can see how fast employers are adding workers and the type of jobs being added. This helps us determine whether the economy is growing. As more people join the workforce, consumer confidence improves, which, in turn, should lead to additional spending.

After losing approximately 8.7 million jobs in 2008 and 2009, the U.S. has gained back almost 90% of those through the end of 2013. Last year, there was a gain of 2.3 million workers, a 3.8% jump from the previous year. This translated to approximately 192,000 jobs per month, versus the 186,000 recorded in 2012. The largest gains occurred in professional/business services, retail trade and leisure/hospitality services. In contrast, federal government payrolls fell by about 90,000. During the year, the number of unemployed individuals decreased by 1.9 million as the unemployment rate fell 1.2 percentage points to 6.7%. Even though the employment gains from the last two months were below most economists expectations, many feel this was likely weather related.

Most economists believe the economy will continue to move in a positive direction for 2014. Businesses should remain profitable, consumer demand should continue to improve and there is less concern surrounding the country’s fiscal condition, especially given that it is an election year. The general consensus among various economic forecasts is that non-farm employment will grow between 1.7% and 1.9% in 2014, or roughly 200,000 jobs per month, with the unemployment rate falling to 6.5%.

For more housing and economic data, we recommend you review MGIC’s quarterly Market Trend Analysis Report

Have some additional insights on job growth and the economy? We’d love to hear them. Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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