December payrolls hit 74,000 vs. 200,000 estimate, unemployment at 6.7%

The unemployment rate declined from 7.0 percent to 6.7 percent in  December, while total nonfarm payroll employment edged up (+74,000), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment rose in retail trade and wholesale trade but was down in information.

Household Survey Data                                                                                                 

The number of unemployed persons declined by 490,000 to 10.4 million in December, and the unemployment rate declined by 0.3 percentage point to 6.7 percent. Over the year, the number of unemployed persons and the unemployment rate were down by 1.9 million and 1.2 percentage points, respectively.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (6.3 percent) and whites (5.9 percent) declined in December. The rates for adult women (6.0 percent), teenagers (20.2 percent), blacks (11.9 percent), and Hispanics (8.3 percent) showed little change. The jobless rate for Asians was 4.1 percent (not seasonally adjusted), down by 2.5 percentage points over the year.

Among the unemployed, the number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs decreased by 365,000 in December to 5.4 million. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more), at 3.9 million, showed little change; these individuals accounted for 37.7 percent of the unemployed. The number of long-term unemployed has declined by 894,000 over the year.

The civilian labor force participation rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 62.8 percent in December, offsetting a change of the same magnitude in November. In December, the employment-population ratio was unchanged at 58.6 percent. The labor force participation rate declined by 0.8 percentage point over the year, while the employment-population ratio was unchanged.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was essentially unchanged at 7.8 million in December. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find full-time work.

In December, 2.4 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, little changed 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 917,000 discouraged workers in December, down by 151,000 from a year earlier. Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.5 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in December had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

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