Best- and worst-performing industries in December

The labor market ended 2017 on a disappointing note, adding 148,000 jobs in December, well below the 190,000 expected.
Goldman Sachs partly blamed the lackluster performance on snowy weather in the eastern U.S., while other economists said the low unemployment rate was making it harder for employers to find workers.
But not every industry was a dud.  Some punched above their weight. Here’s a rundown:

Weak performers

• Retail. Lost 20,000 jobs as shoppers continued to shift online from physical stores. Still, that’s more than the average 5,600 jobs a month that retail shed in 2017. The snowstorms may have hit retailers harder as many Americans who might have ventured out, opted instead to do their holiday shopping online. Many chains, including department stores, also are closing outlets.
• Professional and business services. This is a big category that includes lawyers, accountants, architects, engineers and many information-technology workers. Many months, the sector is the job-growth leader, but it added just 19,000 last month, less than half its monthly average of 44,000 last year. Computer design firms fared well enough, adding 3,300 jobs, but accounting and bookkeeping firms lost 15,400.
• Financial and real estate firms. Added 6,000 jobs, below their monthly average of 11,000 in 2017. Insurance carriers added a solid 2,000 jobs but banks trimmed 1,100.

Solid performers

 Construction. Contractors added 30,000 jobs, above their solid monthly average of 17,500 last year. The total may have been bolstered by a pickup in rebuilding projects in parts of Texas and Florida hit by hurricanes in late summer. Also, housing starts accelerated in 2017 as builders responded to skimpy home supplies that have driven up prices. Construction could get a further boost from the Republican tax cuts, which are expected to spur more business investment.
 Manufacturing. Added 25,000 jobs, more than its healthy monthly average of 16,300 in 2017. Manufacturers are benefiting from a surging global economy and a resuscitated oil industry. Solid job growth in construction and manufacturing is welcome because each of those sectors lost about 2 million jobs in the Great Recession and they supply the kinds of middle-income positions that have dwindled in recent years.
• Leisure and hospitality. Added 29,000 jobs, more than its monthly average of 25,500 despite the inclement weather. Restaurants and bars have been a jobs growth engine and didn’t disappoint last month as they added 25,000 jobs.
 Health care. Has been a steady performer for years, partly because if the Affordable Care Act and an aging population. Health care added 31,000 jobs last month, up from 2017 monthly average of 25,000.
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