Nonfarm payroll jumps 200,000, unemployment at 8.5%

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.

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