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Reich: Strong jobs report has these flaws

Slack still persists in the labor market: Reich

Despite strong job growth, the labor market continued to show blemishes in December, former U.S Labor Secretary Robert Reich contended.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday that nonfarm payrolls grew by 292,000 for the month, easily topping expectations of 200,000. But Reich highlighted concerns about wage growth and labor force participation, which underline sustained "slack" in the jobs market.

"It's unusual where you have this degree of job growth and employers don't feel the necessity of bidding up wages," he said Friday on CNBC's "Closing Bell."

Job seekers wait in line to speak with recruiters during the San Jose Career Fair in San Jose, California.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Average hourly earnings fell 1 cent for an annualized gain of 2.5 percent, both of which missed expectations. Much of the growth came in temporary or lower-wage jobs, which could have curbed wages, Reich said.

"That's been the story of much of this recovery," he said.

A separate measure that includes those who did not look for work in the past month or worked part time for economic reasons also generates concern, Reich noted. That metric came in at 9.9 percent, versus the headline unemployment rate of 5 percent.

Reich said that rate, in particular, shows the continued slack in the job market.

CNBC's Jeff Cox contributed to this report.