U.S. Nonfarm Payroll Increases by 199,000 in December — Unemployment Declines to 3.9%

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The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported today (1-7-22) that total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 199,000 in December, following increases of 210,000 in November, 531,000 in October, 194,000 in September, 235,000 in August, 1.1 million in July, and 962,000 in June. Nonfarm payroll employment has increased by 18.8 million since April 2020 but is down by -3.6 million, or -2.3%, from its pre-pandemic level in February 2020.

In December, notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, transportation and warehousing, construction, and manufacturing.

In December, the unemployment rate fell by -0.03% to 3.9%. The number of unemployed persons fell by -483,000 to 6.3 million. Over the year, these measures are down by 2.8 percentage points and 4.5 million, respectively. In February 2020, prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the unemployment rate was 3.5%, and unemployed persons numbered 5.7 million.

Construction employment rose by 22,000 in December, following monthly gains averaging 38,000 over the prior 3 months. In December, job gains occurred in nonresidential specialty trade contractors (+13,000) and in heavy and civil engineering construction (+10,000). Construction employment is 88,000 below its February 2020, pre-Covid level.

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