Question #3 for 2017: Will job creation slow further in 2017?

Late last year I posted some questions for 2017: Ten Economic Questions for 2017. I'll try to add some thoughts, and maybe some predictions for each question.

3) Employment: Through November1, the economy has added almost 2,000,000 jobs this year, or 180,000 per month. As expected, this was down from the 230 thousand per month in 2015. Will job creation in 2017 be as strong as in 2016? Or will job creation be even stronger, like in 2014 or 2015? Or will job creation slow further in 2017?

1Note: The December jobs report was released after I wrote this question. For 2017, the economy added 2.157 million jobs, or 180,000 per month.

For review, here is a table of the annual change in total nonfarm, private and public sector payrolls jobs since 1997.  For total and private employment gains, 2014 and 2015 were the best years since the '90s, however it appears job growth peaked in 2014.

Change in Payroll Jobs per Year (000s)

Total, Nonfarm
Private
Public

1997
3,407
3,212
195

1998
3,047
2,734
313

1999
3,179
2,718
461

2000
1,951
1,687
264

2001
-1,726
-2,277
551

2002
-500
-733
233

2003
113
155
-42

2004
2,042
1,895
147

2005
2,514
2,328
186

2006
2,092
1,883
209

2007
1,147
859
288

2008
-3,569
-3,749
180

2009
-5,070
-4,996
-74

2010
1,066
1,282
-216

2011
2,087
2,399
-312

2012
2,149
2,219
-70

2013
2,311
2,378
-67

2014
3,015
2,885
130

2015
2,744
2,651
93

2016
2,157
1,974
183


The good news is the economy still has solid momentum heading into the new year.

The bad news - for job growth - is that a combination of demographics and a labor market nearing full employment suggests fewer jobs will be added in 2017.  Of course that should be good news for wages.

Note: Too many people compare to the '80s and '90s, without thinking about changing demographics. The prime working age population (25 to 54 years old) was growing 2.2% per year in the '80s, and 1.3% per year in the '90s. The prime working age population has actually declined slightly this decade. Note: The prime working age population is now growing slowly again, and growth will pick up the '20s.

In 2016, public employment added to total employment for the third consecutive year, but still at a fairly low level. Public hiring in 2017 will probably be similar to 2016.

The second table shows the change in construction and manufacturing payrolls starting in 2006.

Construction Jobs (000s)
Manufacturing (000s)

2006
152
-178

2007
-195
-269

2008
-789
-896

2009
-1,047
-1,375

2010
-187
120

2011
144
207

2012
117
158

2013
211
126

2014
362
208

2015
296
26

2016
102
-45


Energy related construction hiring declined in 2016, but will probably rebound a little in 2017 since oil prices have increased.  For manufacturing, there will probably be little or no growth in the auto sector in 2017, and there will be an additional drag on manufacturing employment from the strong dollar.

So my forecast is for gains of 125,000 to 150,000 payroll jobs per month in 2016.  Lower than in 2016, but another solid year for employment gains given current demographics.

Here are the Ten Economic Questions for 2017 and a few predictions:

Question #3 for 2017: Will job creation slow further in 2017?
Question #4 for 2017: What will the unemployment rate be in December 2017?
Question #5 for 2017: Will the core inflation rate rise in 2017? Will too much inflation be a concern in 2017?
Question #6 for 2017: Will the Fed raise rates in 2017, and if so, by how much?
Question #7 for 2017: How much will wages increase in 2017?
Question #8 for 2017: How much will Residential Investment increase?
Question #9 for 2017: What will happen with house prices in 2017?
Question #10 for 2017: Will housing inventory increase or decrease in 2017?

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