Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 200,000 in December, and the unemployment rate, at 8.5 percent, continued to trend down, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in transportation and warehousing, retail trade, manufacturing, health care, and mining.
Household Survey Data
Both the number of unemployed persons (13.1 million) and the unemployment rate (8.5 percent) continued to trend down in December. The unemployment rate has declined by 0.6 percentage point since August.
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for adult men decreased to 8.0 percent in December. The jobless rates for adult women (7.9 percent), teenagers (23.1 percent), whites (7.5 percent), blacks (15.8 percent), and Hispanics (11.0 percent) showed little change. The jobless rate for Asians was 6.8 percent, not seasonally adjusted.
The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 5.6 million and accounted for 42.5 percent of the unemployed.
The civilian labor force participation rate (64.0 percent) and the employment-population ratio (58.5 percent) were both unchanged over the month.
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) declined by 371,000 to 8.1 million in December. 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 2.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in December, little different 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.
Among the marginally attached, there were 945,000 discouraged workers in December, a decrease of 373,000 from 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 in December 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 increased by 200,000 in December. Over the past 12 months, nonfarm payroll employment has risen by 1.6 million. Employment in the private sector rose by 212,000 in December and by 1.9 million over the year. Government employment changed little over the month but fell by 280,000 over the year.
Employment in transportation and warehousing rose sharply in December (+50,000). Almost all of the gain occurred in the couriers and messengers industry (+42,000); seasonal hiring was particularly strong in December.
Retail trade continued to add jobs in December, with a gain of 28,000. Employment in the industry has increased by 240,000 over the past 12 months. Over the month, job gains continued in general merchandise stores (+13,000) and in clothing and clothing accessories stores (+11,000). Employment in sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores fell by 10,000.
In December, manufacturing employment expanded by 23,000, following 4 months of little change. Employment increased in December in transportation equipment (+9,000), fabricated metals (+6,000), and machinery (+5,000).
Mining employment rose by 7,000 over the month. Over the year, mining added 89,000 jobs.
Health care continued to add jobs in December (+23,000); employment in hospitals increased by 10,000. Over the year, health care employment has risen by 315,000.
Within leisure and hospitality, employment in food services and drinking places continued to trend up in December (+24,000). Over the year, food services and drinking places has added 230,000 jobs.
Construction employment changed little in December. Within the industry, nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 20,000 jobs over the month, mostly offsetting losses over the prior 2 months.
Employment in professional and business services changed little in December for the second month in a row. The industry added 42,000 jobs per month, on average, during the first 10 months of 2011.
Government employment changed little in December but was down by 280,000 over the year. Job losses in 2011 occurred in local government; state government, excluding education; and the U.S. Postal Service.
The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.1 hour to 34.4 hours in December. The manufacturing workweek increased by 0.1 hour to 40.5 hours. Factory overtime decreased by 0.1 hour to 3.2 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged up by 0.1 hour to 33.7 hours.
In December, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 4 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $23.24. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 2.1 percent. In December, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees were unchanged at $19.54.
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for October was revised from +100,000 to +112,000, and the change for November was revised from +120,000 to +100,000.