April 06, 1999
In 1998, total nonfarm payroll employment increased 2.3 percent, down slightly from the 2.6 percent average gain reported from 1993 to 1997. However, some major industries experienced job growth that was substantially higher than their 1993-97 average, notably finance, insurance, and real estate; government; and construction.
In construction, employment rose by 314,000 in 1998, following average increases of 251,000 the previous five years. Low interest rates, especially for home building, pushed construction activity higher; spending on single-family home construction increased by 15 percent in constant dollars during 1998.
In finance, insurance, and real estate, the 269,000 employment increase in 1998 was 161,000 greater than the average from 1993 to 1997. Finance added 86,000 more jobs than its previous five-year average; insurance added 51,000 more jobs; and real estate added 24,000 more jobs. Again, low interest rates, by affecting demand both for home financing and for interest-sensitive securities, fueled the increased job growth.
Federal, State, and local governments all contributed to the increased net hiring in government. After 5 years of reductions that averaged 51,000 per year, Federal employment showed a small gain in 1998. The 1998 increase in State government employment of 72,000 jobs was about double the previous 5-year average.
These employment data by industry are produced by the BLS Current Employment Statistics program. More information may be obtained from "Job growth slows during crises overseas", Monthly Labor Review, February 1999. The employment changes in this article are based on the change in seasonally adjusted employment data from the fourth quarter of 1997 to the fourth quarter of 1998.