The 2014 jobs numbers are in. Last week, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and payroll company ADP and Moody's Analytics both released the final monthly jobs reports for the year, capping out the first complete data sets on employment growth over the calendar year.
So was it a good year or a bad year? There are a couple of things to keep in mind. First of all, both BLS and ADP revise their numbers in subsequent reports. (A Quartz article in April noted that the BLS margin of error is a "ridiculously large" 100,000 jobs.) So even though we have data for the year, the numbers may change, especially the ones for the last few months of the year. Also, the numbers that are in news headlines each month are seasonally adjusted numbers, not the raw data. And to confound things even further, the reports from BLS and ADP can often be dramatically different.
So, with those grains of salt in mind, here's how the United States economy overall fared in 2014.
According to the BLS, November was the strongest month of the year overall. (November's figure could still change and even get stronger—it was already revised up from 321,000 jobs added.) April came in second, adding 304,000 jobs (revised up from 288,000). January was the worst month for nonfarm employment overall, adding a relatively small 144,000 jobs (but revised up from the initially reported 113,000).
The strongest month for construction job growth was January, when the U.S. economy added 51,000 jobs, according to the BLS. December's initial figure comes in a close second, with 48,000 construction jobs added, and even though this will probably change, it's unlikely it will be revised below April's 36,000 jobs added. Construction job growth slowed the most in June, and added only 8,000 jobs.
The BLS revised construction figures by an average of 4,000 jobs between the initial figure and the most recent data. (This excludes December, because the data for that month was only released last week and hasn't yet been revised.) The largest revision was on February's construction growth, which went from aninitially reported 15,000 jobs added to 24,000 jobs added.
November was manufacturing's strongest month in 2014, according to the BLS. July and October tied for second-best, each adding 24,000 jobs in manufacturing. The largest revision was in February, which the bureau initially reported only added 6,000 jobs. That was revised to 20,000 jobs added. The average revision from January through November on the manufacturing data was 6,400 jobs.
Architecture and Engineering
ADP doesn't break out the architecture and engineering industries like BLS does. The closest that report gets is professional and business services, which likely includes architects and engineers, but we've excluded that data for this article. Keep in mind that trends in the larger sector of architecture and engineering services are not necessarily indicative of the performance of individual industries. The BLS says that the strongest month in 2014 for architecture and engineering services was July, when the sectors added 6,600 jobs (initially reported as 8,800 jobs added). Aside from a major slowing of growth in August, the industry generally hummed along the line of 5,000 to 6,000 jobs added per month. The average revision between the initial and most recent numbers was 1,000 jobs.
Overall, average annual employment in architecture and engineering combined has been increasing each year since the Great Recession. In 2008, the industries employed an average of 1,439,400 people (non-seasonally adjusted). The following year, that dropped down to 1,324,700 before bottoming out at 1,275,400 in 2010. In 2014, architecture and engineering employed an average of 1,404,800 people, which is still less than before the crash, but it's getting close.
Charts: Maggie Goldstone; Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ADP and Moody's Analytics
Here's a spreadsheet of the 2014 job growth in construction, manufacturing, and architecture and engineering.