By M. Ray Perryman, PhD, CEO and President – The Perryman Group
Outlook for the US Economy – 4th Quarter 2023
By M. Ray Perryman, PhD, CEO and President
The Perryman Group
The United States economy added almost 2.9 million net new jobs during the twelve-month period ending December 2023 for an annual employment growth rate of 1.86%. Over the past year, the largest gains were in the educational services, health care, and social assistance industries, which added 1,083,000 employees (a strong 4.34% increase), whereas the fastest growth in percentage terms was in state government, which grew at a strong 5.15% over the year (an increase of 266,000 net new positions). Some industries did shed jobs, however, with the largest losses in the information industries, down -69,000 workers from December 2022 to December 2023.
The nation’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in December was 3.74%, up from 3.72% in November and reflecting an increase of 0.29 percentage points from a year prior. However, the rate is still well below the level economists consider “full employment.”
Inflation signals continue to be encouraging, with core rates dropping significantly. The Federal Reserve has now confirmed that it will start to cut interest rates in the coming months, though timing will depend on data released in the interim. The longer the job market can remain stable in the face of actions necessary to slow inflation, the higher the probability of avoiding a recession.
Uncertainty continues to be a challenge for the economy, with geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and Russia/Ukraine. More recently, Venezuela has indicated it will seek to take disputed territory in neighboring Guyana, where substantial oil reserves are under development offshore, and disruptions have occurred in Red Sea shipping channels. These and other trouble spots could cause issues ranging from higher oil prices to disrupted trade flows if they escalate.
The resilience demonstrated by the US economy has been notable, with an expansionary pattern despite a variety of challenges. The Perryman Group’s latest projections continue to indicate that growth is likely to continue (barring a major escalation in the Middle East). Business cycles are inevitable, but it appears that a major setback is unlikely unless conditions change markedly.
The Perryman Group’s most recent projections indicate real gross product is expected to expand by +2.50% this year on a year-over-year basis, with +2.68% growth in 2025. Job gains are projected to be almost 2.783 million through 2024, with an increase of just under 2.865 million jobs the following year.
About Dr. M. Ray Perryman and the Perryman Group
Dr. M. Ray Perryman is President and Chief Executive Officer of The Perryman Group (www.perrymangroup.com). He also serves as Institute Distinguished Professor of Economic Theory and Method at the International Institute for Advanced Studies.