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The unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage point to 9.4 percent in December, and non-farm payroll employment increased by 103,000, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on January 7. Employment rose in leisure and hospitality and in health care but was little changed in other major industries.
Household Survey Data
The number of unemployed persons decreased by 556,000 to 14.5 million in December, and the unemployment rate dropped to 9.4 percent. Over the year, these measures were down from 15.2 million and 9.9 percent, respectively.
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (9.4 percent) and whites (8.5 percent) declined in December. The unemployment rates for adult women (8.1 percent), teenagers (25.4 percent), blacks (15.8 percent) and Hispanics (13.0 percent) showed little change. The jobless rate for Asians was 7.2 percent, not seasonally adjusted.
In December, the number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs dropped by 548,000 to 8.9 million. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 6.4 million and accounted for 44.3 percent of the unemployed.
The civilian labor force participation rate edged down in December to 64.3 percent, and the employment-population ratio was essentially unchanged at 58.3 percent.
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was essentially unchanged in December at 8.9 million. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.
About 2.6 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in December, little different than a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.
Among the marginally attached, there were 1.3 million discouraged workers in December, an increase of 389,000 from December 2009. (The data is not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.3 million persons marginally attached to the labor force had not searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.
Establishment Survey Data
Total non-farm payroll employment increased by 103,000 in December. Employment rose in leisure and hospitality and in health care but changed little in other major industries. Since December 2009, total payroll employment has increased by 1.1 million, or an average of 94,000 per month.
Employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 47,000 in December. Within the industry, job gains continued in food services and drinking places (+25,000). Since a recent low in December 2009, the food services industry has added 188,000 jobs.
In December, health care employment continued to expand, with a gain of 36,000. Over the month, job gains continued in ambulatory services (+21,000), hospitals (+8,000), and nursing and residential care facilities (+7,000).
Within professional and business services, employment in temporary help services continued to trend up in December (+16,000) and has risen by 495,000 since a recent low in September 2009.
Employment in retail trade changed little in December (+12,000). A job gain in motor vehicle and parts dealers (+8,000) offset a loss in health and personal care stores (-8,000). Employment in most other service-providing industries changed little over the month.
In the goods-producing sector, mining employment continued to trend up in December, reflecting a job gain in support activities for mining (+5,000).
Manufacturing employment changed little over the month (+10,000). Following job growth earlier in 2010, employment has been relatively flat, on net, since May. Construction employment also was little changed overall in December (-16,000). Within construction, there were job losses in heavy and civil engineering (-13,000) and in residential building (-6,000).
The average workweek for all employees on private non-farm payrolls held at 34.3 hours in December. The manufacturing workweek for all employees declined by 0.1 hour to 40.2 hours, while factory overtime remained at 3.1 hours. The average workweek for production and non-supervisory employees on private non-farm payrolls increased by 0.1 hour to 33.6 hours.
In December, average hourly earnings for all employees on private non-farm payrolls increased by 3 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $22.78. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 1.8 percent. In December, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and non-supervisory employees rose by 2 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $19.21.
The change in total non-farm payroll employment for October was revised from +172,000 to +210,000, and the change for November was revised from +39,000 to +71,000.