2014 is best year for job gains since 1999

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NEW YORK — Hiring surged in November as employers added 321,000 jobs, crowning 2014 as the strongest year for job growth since 1999.

The unemployment rate remained steady at 5.8%, according the government report released Friday. That’s down from 6.6% in January.

Hiring blew out the consensus forecast from economists, who expected a jobs gain of 228,000 jobs. They predicted an unemployment rate of 5.8%.

Employers also boosted hiring in September and October by 44,000 more jobs than previously reported.

Encouraging signs: Many employers are putting out the “Help Wanted” sign. Take Sitel, a global customer service outsourcing firm headquartered in Nashville, Tenn.

As the economy improves and consumer return, more companies are seeing increased demand for customer service via phone, email, online chat and social media, said Sean Erickson, chief infrastructure and marketing officer. Sitel is so busy fielding its clients’ customer inquiries that it is adding 5,700 jobs in the U.S. to the roughly 13,000 positions it has now. Nearly all the domestic jobs are full-time with benefits, Erickson said.

Looking ahead to 2015, Erickson expects to continue adding staff.

“I don’t see any slowdown,” he said.

But, although companies are adding jobs, many of them aren’t good-paying ones. Millennials, in particular, have lost ground, according to a new report from the Young Invincibles, an advocacy group for that generation.

Median annual wages have fallen in nearly all of the most popular industry sectors that employ young adults age 25 to 34 over the past decade.

In retail and wholesale trade, which employs the largest share of these older Millennials, median wages plummeted 15% to $25,000. Wages in the leisure and hospitality industry fell 5% to $18,000. Only healthcare, the second most popular field, saw wages grow, albeit by a paltry 2% to $30,000.

Older Millennials also lost ground in the highest-paid field, finance. Their representation in the industry fell by 5%, and those working in it saw their median wage fall by 2%.

“They are not finding the jobs they need to set them up for their long-term financial future,” said Konrad Mugglestone, co-author of the report.

While workers age 35-plus also saw wages fall in many popular industries, but the declines were not as steep.

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