Employment report worse than expected

THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION -- DECEMBER 2009

Nonfarm payroll employment edged down (-85,000) in December, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 10.0 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment fell in construction, manufacturing, and wholesale trade, while temporary help services and health care added jobs.

Household Survey Data

In December, both the number of unemployed persons, at 15.3 million, and the unemployment rate, at 10.0%, were unchanged. At the start of the recession in December 2007, the number of unemployed persons was 7.7 million, and the unemployment rate was 5.0%. (See table A-1.)

Unemployment rates for the major worker groups--adult men (10.2%), adult women (8.2%), teenagers (27.1%), whites (9.0%), blacks (16.2%), and Hispanics (12.9%)--showed little change in December. The unemployment rate for Asians was 8.4%, not seasonally adjusted. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

Among the unemployed, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) continued to trend up, reaching 6.1 million. In December, four in 10 unemployed workers were jobless for 27 weeks or longer. (See table A-9.)

The civilian labor force participation rate fell to 64.6% in December. The employment-population ratio declined to 58.2%. (See table A-1.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was about unchanged at 9.2 million in December and has been relatively flat since March. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job. (See table A-5.)

About 2.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in December, an increase of 578,000 from 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. (See table A-13.)

Among the marginally attached, there were 929,000 discouraged workers in December, up from 642,000 a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.6 million persons marginally attached to the labor force had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment edged down in December (-85,000). Job losses continued in construction, manufacturing, and wholesale trade, while temporary help services and health care continued to add jobs. During 2009, monthly job losses moderated substantially. Employment losses in the first quarter of 2009 averaged 691,000 per month, compared with an average loss of 69,000 per month in the fourth quarter. (See table B-1.)

Construction employment declined by 53,000 in December, with job losses throughout the industry. Employment in construction has fallen by 1.6 million since the recession began.

In December, employment in manufacturing decreased by 27,000. The average monthly decline for the last six months of 2009 (-41,000) was much lower than the average monthly decline for the first half of the year (-171,000). Since the recession began, manufacturing employment has fallen by 2.1 million; three-fourths of this drop occurred in the durable goods component (-1.6 million).

Wholesale trade employment declined by 18,000 in December, with the majority of the decline occurring among durable goods wholesalers. Employment in retail trade was little changed over the month, although general merchandise stores lost 15,000 jobs.

Temporary help services added 47,000 jobs in December. Since reaching a low point in July, temporary help services employment has risen by 166,000.

Health care employment continued to increase in December (22,000), with notable gains in offices of physicians (9,000) and home health care services (8,000). The health care industry has added 631,000 jobs since the recession began.

In December, the average workweek for production and nonsupervisory workers on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 33.2 hours. The manufacturing work-week, at 40.4 hours, and factory overtime, at 3.4 hours, were unchanged over the month. Since May, the manufacturing workweek has increased by 1.0 hour. (See table B-2.)

In December, average hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory workers on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 3 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $18.80. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.2 percent, while average weekly earnings have risen by 1.9 percent. (See table B-3.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for October was revised from -111,000 to -127,000, and the change for November was revised from -11,000 to +4,000.

To see the complete report and associated tables clink on this link.

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The Employment Situation for January is scheduled to be released on Friday,

February 5, 2010, at 8:30 a.m. (EST).

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