It's possible that 2014 was the best year to look for a new job since the late 1990s even if the opportunities were uneven. Through the first 11 months of last year, the U.S. job market added 240,000 new jobs on average each month. December's results will be released on Friday.
If that pace of job creation continued to end 2014, close to 3 million jobs will have been added to the American economy in the past year. While there remain real employment struggles, the headline data has been strengthening. That has helped the stock market hover near record highs as 2015 begins.
While the number of new jobs has climbed, the growth rate lags what workers experienced in the 1990s.That slack means pay raises are kept in check, helping keep inflation at bay. Five years after the Great Recession, 2014 was the year the U.S. workforce recovered all of the jobs lost, and then some. However, the share of the population working or looking for work remains near generational lows.
While overall job growth rewards stock investors with higher prices, 2015 may see a focus on where the job growth is and who is going to work. The unemployment rate for African-Americans is more than twice that of whites. The Hispanic unemployment rate also is higher than the national rate. The size of the job market is important. So is its scope.
Tom Hudson, financial journalists hosts "The Sunshine Economy" on WLRN-FM in Miami, where he is the vice president of news. Follow him on Twitter@HudsonsView.