U.S. unemployment rate declined to 3.9% in December 2021

January 07, 2021

In December, total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 199,000. The unemployment rate ticked down to 3.9% in December. The job growth was spread across various industries, with notable gains in leisure and hospitality, in professional and business services, in manufacturing, in construction, and in transportation and warehousing.

Professional and business services added 43,000 jobs in December 2021. Employment in leisure and hospitality continued to trend up in December (+53,000). Transportation and warehousing added 19,000, construction (+22,000) and manufacturing (+26,000) over the month. Additionally, employment in wholesale trade added 14,000 and mining added 7,000. According to BLS, “in December, employment showed little or no change in other major industries, including retail trade, information, financial activities, health care, other services, and government.”

Notably, the number of persons on temporary layoff was little changed at 812,000 in December. The number of permanent job losers declined to 1.7 million. While the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) fell by 185,000 to 2.0 million. Moreover, the number of unemployed persons who were jobless less than 5 weeks in December was 1.98 million.

The labour force participation rate for December stood at 61.9%, while the employment population ratio rose to 61.9%. Nonetheless, persons employed part-time for economic reasons stood at 3.9 million in December. Based on BLS assessment, “these individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part-time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs.”

In December, a total of 1.6 million individuals were slightly attached to the labour force. These persons were not in the labour force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job in the last year. Of the marginally attached, 463,000 persons were classified as discouraged workers in December, little changed over the month. These persons are not currently seeking work as they believe no jobs are available for them.


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