The numbers are in for 2019. We’ll start with jobs, as the December report was just released last week. The month's numbers generally were slightly disappointing, which is good news for the economy and interest rates, as it is in line with predictions of slower growth but no recession. For the year? Even though the December numbers are subject to revision, for the year, we added 2.1 million jobs, or an average of 176,000 per month. This compares with an average monthly gain of 223,000 jobs in 2018 -- pumped up by the effects of the tax overhaul -- and 217,000 jobs per month in 2017. The recent peak was 227,000 jobs added monthly in 2015.
All in all, job gains have been pretty consistent for the past several years, but this was the slowest year for job growth since 2011. The final numbers for the economy are not out yet but, based upon the numbers for the first three quarters of the year, the economy slowed as well. For the year, economic growth (GDP) is projected to come in around 2.25%. This compared to close to 3.0% last year, a year pumped up by the effects of the tax plan. The Federal Deficit continued to increase, coming in at $984 billion, soaring from $585 billion just four years ago, also affected by the tax plan.
On the market level, stocks had a great year in 2019, with the major indices gaining over 20%, despite slower growth. This could be attributed to lower interest rates which prevailed in 2019. Freddie Mac pegged the average 30-year fixed rate home loan at 3.9% for 2019, the fourth lowest average in the past 50 years. These lower interest rates also pumped up the real estate markets, as many took advantage of lower rates to purchase new homes or refinance their existing homes. In November, new home sales were 17% higher than one year ago. Of course, as we have seen, markets can turn on a dime and certainly the threat of the escalation of tensions in the Middle East provides an example of that possibility.